She has a half sister. And, it's a family story that couldn't have been written any better had it been one of the novels in Oprah's Book Club.
First, the facts:
- Vernita Lee and Vernon Winfrey had Oprah in 1954. They never married.
- As far as Oprah knew, Vernita Lee had only two other children - a daughter Pat and a son Jeffrey.
- Jeffrey died in 1989. Pat died in 2003.
- As a young girl, Oprah lived with her father in Tennessee. During that time, in 1963, Vernita Lee gave birth to a baby girl who she did not name and gave her up for adoption. She never told another soul, except 'Cousin Alice.'
Now, the story part of the story ~
In 2007, a woman in Wisconsin named Patricia obtained documentation from the State of Wisconsin that indicated that her birth mother had three other children - two who had died and one who was born in 1954 and had lived with her father in Tennessee. At the exact moment Patricia was talking to her son about what she had learned and how her efforts to reunite with her birth mother were unsuccessful, Vernita Lee was on television talking about her children - two who had died and Oprah who had lived with her father in Tennessee. Coincidence?
Patricia's son did some research and Patricia made her way to Pat's daughter's restaurant. She met Pat's daughter (Oprah's niece), told what she knew and believed and, though met with some initial skepticism (naturally), the resemblance could not be denied. Pat's daughter and Patricia took a DNA test.
Oprah acknowledged that her sister Pat had many demons, was in rehab twice and sold her out to the tabloids when she revealed that Oprah gave birth to a baby at age 14 (the baby later died).
When Oprah met Patricia, she couldn't get over her resemblance to Pat She also couldn't get over that Patricia never went to the press, never went to the tabloids. She went to her pastor.
No one knows how Patricia and Pat ended up with the same name but they did. The name Patricia means noble, as in "a person of refined upbringing, manners, and tastes." Patricia described her childhood in various foster homes and though she may not have had what some describe as a 'refined' upbringing, she clearly has manners and taste. As Oprah said, it feels like Patricia is Pat on her best day.
And then, the sisters rode off into the sunset to live their best life. Together. As a Family. The End.
Today, I am grateful ~
1/ for the sheer lack of juicy secrets in my life
2/ for people in the world who do have such secrets and are open and willing to tell their story
3/ for The Oprah Winfrey Show. I, for one, will miss it.
Thank you for reading Stop and Blog the Roses. Follow me on Twitter @fernronay or on Facebook here.