Isabella W., age 74, has a remarkable life story that truly embodies the adage, “Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” Isabella was born in Dubuque, Iowa, the oldest of three girls. Her incredible life story, so sad and riveting, is one of tremendous obstacles and courage. Due to a very difficult family situation growing up, Isabella at age 11, and her two younger sisters, Estella and Janie, then ages 10 and 2, were taken away from their parents and split up. Isabella was shuffled between various foster homes while her sisters were placed in different orphanages. Isabella missed them terribly and was incredibly sad to be separated from her sisters. Incredibly, Isabella has not seen Estella or Janie in 50 years.
The three sisters’ Wish of a Lifetime is to be reunited once again, after a half of a century. Eager to start a new life and escape her poverty and loneliness, Isabella moved to New York City and became a model and aspiring actress. Life and circumstances took her far away from her sisters. Incredibly, Isabella has not seen Estella or Janie in 50 years…half a century! Although their childhood was tragic, the bond and affection between these three sisters could not be broken. Over all these years, they have kept in touch by phone, letter and sending pictures back and forth in the mail. Her youngest sister has progressive hearing loss, making communication impossible on the phone and so the two just stay in touch via letters in the mail.
Isabella’s wish of a lifetime is to travel from New York to Indiana to see Estella and Janie again and to meet their husbands and children. “I cannot even say how much this would mean to see my sisters again. It would be a dream come true…the most amazing thing!” She went on to wistfully convey, “My sisters and I have childhood memories but we lost the middle of our lives. To see them again and meet their families would be so wonderful. In every letter and every phone call, Estella has never stopped asking me to come. We have missed so much of our lives. Estella pleads with me, ‘I just want to touch you and to give you a hug. I want to see you before I die!’ In June, Wish of a Lifetime was truly honored to bring Isabella from New York to Indiana to see her dear sisters, Estella and Janie. The sisters spent 3 memorable days laughing and talking and loved every minute of getting to catch up on the last 50 years of life!
Photography Courtesy of Jasmine Norris Photography