JEROME • Pat Roseno looked at the clock and walked to her screen door. She looked up and down the road.
“Well, it does take some time to check in I suppose,” Roseno said.
She walked back inside and sat watching Wheel of Fortune, her eyes darting to the clock intermittently. Her phone was kept within reach.
Waiting 30 more minutes was nothing. Roseno had been waiting 73 years. Still, she couldn’t quell her excitement. This wouldn’t be real until she held her brother and sister in her arms.
“It’s 7 o’clock,” Roseno said, picking up her phone again. “I’m not waiting anymore.”
Hanging up the phone, she told son Jack Larson: “They are leaving the hotel right now.”
Then she went outside to wait in the driveway.
Searching for Family
Roseno, a 20-year Jerome resident, has five children and 21 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She has lived in Texas, California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho twice.
“My life is a book in itself,” she said Wednesday, sitting in her back yard.
Roseno, 77, said memories of her early childhood are fuzzy. She recalls living with her mother, Lorenza “Toni” Young, in Houston.
One day they went to Los Angeles to look for Roseno’s father, Leslie Mannis. The year was 1942 or 1943. What Roseno didn’t know was that her mother had left behind her four other children.
Nobody knows why. The Mannis children left behind were Romanza, Leslie Marvin, Jacquelyn and Marvin Leslie.
In Los Angeles, they found her father, but he had a girlfriend. Roseno said she remembers standing inside the car while her mother and the girlfriend fought. This woman later became her father’s wife.
Roseno and her mother never did return to Texas for the other children. Family stories say the children were left with an aunt, who put them in foster care.
Roseno said getting family to tell her what really happened was difficult. For 73 years, she said, she knew she had siblings somewhere,but she didn’t know how to find them.
“I tried. Nobody would talk. I got a lot of information from my aunt in Texas,” she said.
Throughout her childhood, Roseno and her mother bounced from state to state. Her mother married four or five times.
Roseno lost contact with her father and reunited with him when she was 13 after calling every Leslie Mannis in the Los Angeles phone book.
He refused to talk about her siblings. When asked, she said, “Dad just flat got up and walked out of the room.”
He died in 2000. Her mother had died in 1988.
“I loved her,” Roseno said of her mother. “She was a great person. ... I was never angry, just heartsick. I lost my brothers and sisters.”
In November, Roseno received a call from half-brother Leslie Joseph, who lived with their father as a child.
He had found their brother Leslie Marvin Mannis Davis, 73, living in Massachusetts.
He had even more good news: He also found their sister Jacquelyn Bowden, 73, living in Dallas. Bowden and Davis had reunited 13 years earlier. They were looking for their brothers and sisters too.
For almost a year, Roseno talked with Bowden and Davis by phone at least once a week. They also shared photos and talked about their parents.
“Leslie, Jackie and me all ask, ‘Why didn’t she take the baby?’ I’d like to try to find the baby, Marvin Leslie.”
He would be 71 or 72 today. The siblings also haven’t found Romanza, who would be 78. Roseno fears she may have died. She was told that the oldest suffered from polio and epilepsy.
From their conversations, Roseno also learned that when she was 7, she visited relatives in Texas. She met Bowden and played with her. Roseno said she has some memory of this encounter. But for Bowden, the visit has always been a vivid memory.
After reconnecting, the three siblings started planning a reunion. Bowden and Davis decided they would fly to Idaho to visit Roseno.
Roseno said though they have talked for almost a year, there was still much more to discuss. She doesn’t know anything about her brother and sister’s lives after they were sent into foster care.
“I haven’t gone into all that. I don’t think it was great,” she said Wednesday. “I’m excited and nervous. I just can’t wait for them to get here.”
Together at Last
When the silver rental car pulled into the driveway, Roseno was there to greet her family. She hugged Bowden as soon as the car door opened.
“Oh, my girl,” Roseno said. “You are beautiful.”
“It’s good to see you,” Bowden said. “I thought we’d never get here.”
Then Roseno hugged her brother, holding him for a moment longer. He had traveled with his wife, Marci.
“You haven’t changed in 73 years,” Davis joked with Roseno.
He said he always has been looking for his family. On Wednesday night, he said, he felt as if he could start building a history he never had. Now he has family history to pass on to his two children. And when his doctor asks for family medical history, he’ll know.
“The only thing I knew was, I was born in Fort Worth, my last name was Mannis and I was adopted,” he said.
The reunion with Roseno was overwhelming yet familiar, he said, almost as if they picked up right where they had left off.
“I’m extremely grateful. We’ve been alone for so long. We never thought we would find any of our relatives.”
Bowden said she was searching for any relatives, but Roseno was the only one she really remembered.
“I’ve been looking for Patricia my whole life. She was the one I had the clear memory of,” she said.
The three siblings stood inside Roseno’s living room chatting and passing around photos.
“This is?” Davis asked taking a photo Roseno handed him.
“Your father,” Roseno said.
“I see Dad,” she added, pointing to her brother’s face.
Although some questions had been answered in their phone calls, Davis said, they still would have a lot to talk about over the next eight days.
But Wednesday night, the three siblings only wanted to soak in the joy of reuniting after so long.
“It’s a miracle. I never thought I would see them before I died,” Roseno said.