Sometimes life takes amazing turns and no one can ever predict what the future holds for them. The mystery that it is, life surprises us in the most unthinkable ways and sometimes it can even turn a tragedy into an amazing gift.
“And sometimes that gift is delivered after an entire century!”
The story of Minka Disbrow from San Clemente, California, is a clear testimony of how mysteriously pleasant are the ways of this life that is our greatest gift. Disbrow herself had perhaps never thought how life would surprise her and turn the biggest tragedy of her life into a wonderful gift.
In 2006, Disbrow had turned 100 just last month, when she recieved a call from one Brian Lee. Brian told her that he was her grandson- the son of the daughter that she had given up for adoption! Disbrow, along with a friend, had been raped at the young age of 16 by strangers, while they were walking in the woods near the former’s house in South Dakota.
This was way back in 1928. She told us ‘We didn’t know what to do. We didn’t know what to say. So when we went back, nothing was said.’ When it was discovered she was pregnant, her mother and stepfather sent her to a Lutheran home for pregnant girls.
A year later, Minka gave birth to a baby girl who she named Betty Jane. But she was told that she couldn’t bring the baby back to her father’s home. Coincidentally a Pastor and his wife were looking to adopt a child. With a heavy heart, she the couple her bundle of joy. ‘I loved that baby so much. I wanted what was best.’ She hoped that the couple could give her child the home that she could not. She never met the couple or even knew their names. But her baby girl was always in her thoughts.
For years, Minka would write to the adoption agency and would ask for updates about her child and the agency would faithfully reply to her queries. This went on until the management changed and she lost touch. She went on to marry a successful fruit salesmen. She was living in San Clemente when she received the call.
Brian Lee, her grandson, called her up from Alabama, on June 2, 2006. He asked her if she would like to speak to her daughter Betty Jane, who was now called Ruth Lee. Minka’s daughter, now Mrs. Lee, had gone on to marry and have six children. She had started searching for her biological roots when, in relation to a heart disease that she had developed, the doctors had asked about her family’s medical history. After years of searching, their efforts had lead to fruition.
On the phone with her biological daughter, Mrs Disbrow was in disbelief. She was ecstatic to learn that one of her son’s is the astronaut Mark Lee was a veteran of four space flights and had circled the world 517 times.
A month later, Ruth Lee and her son Brian flew to California. They arrived at her biological mother’s apartment with a gigantic bouquet of flowers. Mrs Disbrow couldn’t get over how similar her daughter’s hands were to her own while Mrs Lee was amazed at the women’s similar taste in clothing. They pored over family photo albums and caught up on the years they had missed. Mrs Disbrow said: ‘It was just like we had never parted. Like you were with the family all your life.’Since then, the families have met numerous times. Mrs Disbrow has gone to visit grandchildren and great-grandchildren in Wisconsin and Texas. She is planning to travel to Alabama in the spring, where they will celebrate her recent 100th birthday.
Mrs Lee, now 82, said: ‘It has been such a surreal, amazing experience that I still think sometimes that I will wake up and it will just be a beautiful dream.’