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Positively Milwaukee: Siblings reunite after decades of not knowing the other existed

Posted at 11:11 AM, Jun 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-07 12:11:44-04

It was April of 2016 that Carol Ledzki connected with a man that would change her life forever.

"I said, 'No!'"

The 76-year-old Greenfield grandmother grew up as an only child.

"I always to where I said never have one child because it's a lonely life. It is, you know when you have brothers and sisters, you have built-in playmates," Ledzki says.

She did have relatives to play with, and Ledzki thought she knew them all until...

"I went to Ancestry DNA, sent in a sample. That's when a mysterious match turned up, a fifth cousin, or closer. Turns out the person was not a cousin. My daughter said, 'I think you have a half-brother mom.'"

Ledzki was shocked.

"Then I noticed up in the corner it said I have a message from this guy. And then he said who he was. He said, 'you can check me on Facebook.' He gave me a number [and said] 'If you have questions, I want you to call me.'"

Ledkzi spent 72 years of her life with no siblings. She did have trepidation about connecting with a stranger.

"I said, 'I hope he's not going to jail.' Yeah, I don't know if I want to open this can of worms because I don't know what I'm going to find."

So what happened when Ledzki met her long-lost brother? What kind of man was he? Did he resemble anyone in the family?

"The minute this man got out of the car, I knew he was my brother because he looks just like our father! He came in, and I gave him a big hug, and that was all it took."

Tim Pella was the man who sent Ledzki the message.

She says, "we talked all day long, just talk and talk. Nothing was off the table. We went out for dinner, and we were sitting at the table, and I couldn't believe what I was seeing!"

Pella says, "She said, 'I'm looking at dad. You have all his mannerisms, you sit like him. You talk like him. You are the epitome of our dad, and you're sitting and you're reading a menu like he would like he would.'"

"Yep, I've seen a ghost!" says Ledzki.

Pella now lives in Iowa, but he grew up in a loving adopted home in the Milwaukee area. He was always curious about his biological roots because he knew he was born in Milwaukee.

"I would go in places like Southridge Mall, look around, people watch, and wonder if am I related to anybody," he says.

Meeting his sister gave Pella precious information about the dad he never met.

Ledzki explains, "Oh, my dad never knew, he never in his wildest dreams thought he had a son. I tell him this all the time how proud dad would be of him. What a fine man he's turned out to be."

Pella was surprised to learn he grew up so close to Ledzki and his birth father.

He adds, "Oh the irony of it was I, you know, I was 35 miles away. The whole time, you know, for the first 20 years of my life."

So now, brother and sister make up for lost time. When they first met both were dealing with tragedies.

Ledzki admits, "I was in a bad shape. When I lost my husband and my mom in six weeks, there were mornings I didn't want to get out of bed. I just wanted to pull that cover over my head and just stay there for the rest of my life, Finding out that I had a sibling, that was just great. That was just great!

"Timing couldn't have been much better for either of us because I lost my family and she'd lost two of her main family members and so there was a good thing," Pella says.

"I said, God took two away from me. And he gave me Tim back to fill my life," Ledzki adds.

Ironically, Tim remembers watching Carol's mom on TV.

"When she told me that her mother's name was Evie Goosens I said, 'did she happen to be on Bowling with the Champs?' She said 'yes, and she was a champion!'" Pella says. "I used to watch Bowling with the Champs every Sunday!"

Pella had no idea he was watching his stepmother on television.

Today the two enjoy a typical sibling relationship.

"We get along like brother and sister. We have our ups and downs and don't get along too well sometimes," Ledzki says with a laugh. "We don't talk politics, and we figured that [out]. Religion is okay, but not politics, nope, nope, nope, that's not ever!!"

"She's my big sister she just, you know, and she doesn't want me forgetting either," Pella says.

Pella says discovering Ledzki completes his story.

Pella even wrote a book about his family tree. It's called "Who am I?"

"Finally, somebody that I look like and act like. Even if I never knew them and they never knew me. That says a lot for genetics," says Pella.

Ledzki and Pella say their time together is even more special because they found each other later in life.

Pella, who is 70 says, "At our ages, not knowing how much longer we have, either one of us. When you get to your seventies, you know time is limited, who knows how much time I have left."

Ledzki agrees, "But I'm not going to waste it. I'm not going to waste it. Now, I've got somebody. And I'm going to do whatever it takes to make sure that the rest of our lives are going to be great."

Pella admits, "This is a new fresh time for both of us."

Perhaps there's a story here for all of us. Don't take your family for granted time together is a gift. It should be cherished. Savor every moment!

"Great real life history experience, trust me. I am so thankful every day," shares Pella.

Ledzki smiles, "He's a part of my life. It couldn't have been any better for either of us. I love him! He's, my family!"

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