"All these pictures were up on a wall since I was a young girl and
I never knew who they were," Reaves said.
In two weeks that will all change. Reaves will meet her Norwegian
family for the first time Aug. 8.
The Santa Ana Heights resident is cramming to learn Norwegian and
is anxious to try her grandfather's favorite rice pudding dish. She
giddily bounces in her seat when talking about boarding a plane. And
excitedly points to a picture of the farm she will be staying on.
"It's all coming together for me after all these years," she said.
A FEARFUL BEGINNING
Reaves inherited the family photos when her grandfather passed
away. Her grandparents were the only relatives she knew. They helped
raise her and picked up the pieces when life would come tumbling
Reaves and her sister, Jane, knew when they were younger as the
Nes sisters encountered, cruelty and mistreatment no child or adult
should be subjected to. Reaves is very open with her past, as she
moved on, and said she encountered mental, verbal, violent and sexual
She tells her story without tears or shame. She tells her story of
surviving the demons that haunted her alcoholic mother, who would
whirl in and out of her life, always bringing a new forms of pain and
sorrow. Each time her mother would come in and swoop the girls up and
take them away, the grandparents would frantically search for them
and brace for the calm of the storm. When the mom would leave, they
would try to offset the trauma but despite their attempts at a normal
life, the family was always in hiding, Reaves said, hoping the mother
would not find them this time.
Because they lived in fear, the Nes family distance itself from
their Norwegian kin. And when her grandparents died, following the
deaths of both her father and mother, Reaves thought her only human
connection to those mysterious pictures died as well. She kept the
keepsakes and continued with life. Reaves moved to the beach, got
married, had children, fell in love with life and moved on. Every so
often she would sift through the pictures and wonder.
One photo in particular always grabbed her attention. The