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Chicago man reunites with his family after nearly 40 years

06:47 | 22/07/2020

A Chicago man whose relatives had not heard from him in nearly four decades has been reunited with family members, thanks to a nursing home administrator who turned to social media after the 77-year-old man entered the home with no known next of kin.

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chicago man reunites with his family after nearly 40 years
Because his speech is limited, Antonio could not explain why he had lost touch. Photo: Star

Antonio Talavera reunited with his long-lost brother outside a nursing home in the Humboldt Park neighborhood two weeks ago, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Antonio entered the Center Home for Hispanic Elderly in Chicago in June after being hospitalized from a fall and hampered by dementia. Nursing home records indicated Antonio had been living near 47th Street and Ashland Avenue with a friend and co-worker from a liquor store.

The assistant administrator at the nursing home, Sonia Alonso, remembered a woman with the last name Talavera used to work at the home years ago. He contacted her through Facebook and found that Antonio had been separated from his family for nearly 40 years. They thought he was dead.

According to his niece, Carmen Lebron-Talavera, Manuel’s daughter, the family does not know how or why Antonio got separated.

After getting in contact with the woman through her social media, Alonso asked Antonio if he had a brother named Manuel.

“Is his nickname Neco?” she asked, and immediately, with a look of recognition crossed his face, Antonio began to cry.

Alonso set up a meeting; an emotional encounter for both Antonio and his brother, Manuel.

Because his speech is limited, Antonio could not explain why he had lost touch. The family of 14 siblings had come to the Chicago area from Puerto Rico decades ago.

“The whole family was shocked,” Lebron-Talavera said of finding Antonio. “We’re ecstatic about it.” She said the hardest part was not being able to hug each other in precaution of the coronavirus.

During a second meeting last week, Alonso wheeled Antonio outside to see his brother; both of them frequently breaking out into tears as other family members who came by began crying as well.

“Tio, no llore,” his niece, Lebron-Talavera, said in Spanish, gently telling him not to cry.

“You don’t have to worry,” Alonso told Antonio Talavera. “You have a family now. You’re not alone.”

chicago man reunites with his family after nearly 40 years
Antonio Talavera, 77, left, and his older brother, Manuel Talavera, 82, wipe tears from their eyes during a second meeting outside the Center Home nursing home in Humboldt Park July 14, 2020. They had seen each other for the first time in 40 years just three weeks prior. Photo: Abel Uribe / Chicago Tribune
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Chicago Tribune, AP