Sisters Reunite After Losing Touch for 35 Years
Families separate due to early adoptions and childhood battles, but every once in a while a seemingly stable family will lose touch and drift apart. Years pass as time is neglected and reunions are often met with regret when relatives realize the years of relationship they missed.
Ruth Cole lost touch with her sister Gail Kassimis-Nordine more than three decades ago. The sisters never fought nor exchanged ill words. They simply stopped communicating and went on with their lives.
“The family just grew apart,” Cole said. “It was a sad situation. We all lost touch.”
Health problems prompted Cole to reunite with her sister before she died. She requested the assistance of her family members to search for Kassimis-Nordine. Cole did not have any money to access databases and she wasn’t very computer literate. Additional challenges like her sister’s unknown married name and the widespread use of unlisted cell phones did not help her cause.
Cole finally found a person with a name that matched her sister’s son. She sent him a message hoping he would write her back.
Days later, Cole received a phone call from Kassimis-Nordine’s daughter. She said Cole could meet her sister. Cole was excited to reunite but was saddened by the news that came next. Kassimis-Nordine suffered from a stroke five years ago that left her disabled and functioning with the mental capacity of a 12-year-old child.
Cole gathered the last bit of savings she had and boarded a train to see her failing sister.
“It didn’t matter to me,” she said. “I think I would have hitchhiked, I was so determined to see her.”
Cole was delighted to see her sister after 35 years and recognized her right away. Cole spent her time wheeling Kassimis-Nordine in her wheelchair talking about their childhood and the happy memories they shared.
“It’s wonderful, just seeing her and being able to hug on her,” Cole said. “We tell each other we love each other a lot.”
It was 1977 when the sisters last saw each other and the siblings completely lost touch after the suicide of their brother Robert Snarr in 1995. During her search, Cole also discovered her brother Lonnie Snarr died of a heart attack in 2006.
“People don’t know what it does to you to not talk to someone for years,” Cole said. “To find out a brother died and you never got to say your last goodbye, or to have a sister who is now like she is 12? It’s just heart wrenching.”
Cole tracked down their oldest brother Andy McEntire. It was 15 years since they saw him. McEntire called right away when he heard the news about Kassimis-Nordine. Cole is still looking for Billy Joe Snarr, their youngest brother.
Though the sisters can’t communicate as much as Cole would have liked, they still gesture to each other to make an effort. Cole uses single words and hand signals, and Kassimis-Nordine understands Cole when she speaks.
Cole has shared family information with her sister’s children who were unaware of so many important details. Kassimis-Nordine’s grandson was born a month ago with a heart murmur and Cole shared with her niece that a heart murmur ran in the family.
“I’m the one telling her kids part of her past,” Cole said. “They didn’t even know she had a sister.”
Cole wants to move closer to her sister but for now she will settle for phone communication.
Cole’s son, Miguel Collazo, did not know he had more relatives, although he knew there was more family out there.
“It kind of feels unbelievable,” he said. “I’ve been looking and searching. I’ve been asking everyone I know.”
He would pass people in the street and wonder if they were his cousins or aunts. And now he has an entirely new family with which to share his life.
“When we are younger, we brush stuff like this off,” he said. “It’s not until we are older that we realize.”