Their mother died.
The two daughters gathered around her bed when it happened. In soft voices, they told their elderly mother that it was okay to leave. They pet her white hair, touched her cheeks.
They shared memories in her last moments.
They remembered how they all used to sing along with the radio—especially when Patsy Cline was singing. And how their mother sewed tags into homemade clothes to make them like store-bought.
She was a single mother. She sacrificed. She did without. A saint.
The old woman breathed slower. Slower. One big breath, everyone heard it. And she was no more.
They didn’t know anything about their father. Their mother told them he’d left while they were babies. They agreed that they needed to tell the man—wherever he was.
They hired someone to find him. It took a few days. They learned that he'd moved to New Mexico because of a military career. Long ago, he'd gotten remarried. He had two kids.
The sisters drove to New Mexico in a minivan. They listened to Patsy Cline and mourned. They slept
in cheap motor inns, they told stories to one another. Stories about her.
New Mexico—it was a mobile home on flat land. They knocked on his door, introduced themselves. The man took the news hard. He bawled.
They sat in his den. And, when he’d gathered himself, he stared at them with serious eyes.
“Oh my God,” he remarked. “You actually think I’m your father.”
The girls held confused faces. You could’ve heard a gnat blink.
“Hate to tell you this,” he began. “But I'm not your father, and your mama wasn’t your biological mother.”
The air went cold and the girls became sick to their stomachs.
He told it like it was. It was complicated, but here are the basics:
Their mother had once been engaged to another—her high-school sweetheart. She had grown up with him.…