BINGHAMTON, NY --An extraordinary reunion took place recently in upstate New York between a 96-year-old woman and her long-last daughter after being apart 82 years.
The emotional scene played out at the airport in Binghamton where Lena Pierce met the daughter she last saw in 1933, a daughter who is now 82 years old herself.
"All this time, and now I'm finally going to see her again," Pierce said. "I can't remember back that far because that was so many years ago."
Pierce -- now a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother -- is thinking back all those decades to when she was 14 years old and gave birth to a little girl in a Utica hospital.
Her name was Eva May.
"She bathed her and changed her diapers, and she came to love her," daughter Millie Hawk said.
But six months later, her baby girl was gone.
"The state came in and took her away from her," Hawk said. "And said she wasn't old enough to have a baby."
Eva May grew up on Long Island as an only child.
"There was a lot of times I worried about her," Pierce said. "And wondered where she was."
Her adoptive parents renamed her Betty.
"I had imaginary sisters and I had imaginary brothers, and I had them all named and I would talk to them at night," Betty Morrell said. "My adoptive mother died when I was 21, and my father died a few years after. So I've been on my own all this time."
But after 50 years of searching, Betty finally found her biological mom.
"Here's your daughter, mom," Morrell said at the reunion. "Here's Eva May."
With clues to her past, Betty began looking.
"An aunt of mine had one day slipped and said my name was Eva," she said. "And I said, 'Oh.' And she says, 'And you know, you were born up in Utica?'"
Online searching through Ancestry.com prompted a call placed to the Utica hospital where she was born, which led her to her birth certificate and her mother's name.
"You know, it came through, and she was alive," Morrell said. "And my God, I had been talking to her on the phone, and it was like, it's all gone. My life is complete at this point."
More than eight decades of wondering, searching and hoping, but 82 years that were well worth the wait.
Now, it's time for mother and daughter to catch up on the long lives they've already lived and to determine how they'll spend the time they have left.