ELMER, N.J. (WPVI) --Emotions often take over during happy moments. And this was the case as a family was reunited in Salem County.
"Oh I love you, I love you, said Maribel."
This was the scene in Elmer as a long lost sister was welcomed home by her siblings. The last time they saw each other was 44 years ago.
"Oh my God, you look like mommy. Oh my God, added Maribel."
Minerva Rodriguez ran away from home in Carneys Point when she was 16-years-old. No one ever heard from her again, but her brothers and sister didn't forget her.
Her sister Maribel Alvarado said, "I wonder if my sister's alive. I wondered if my sister's okay, wondered if my sister's sick. And always tell God to watch over her."
With help from Social Security, Maribel tracked her sister down in Portland, Oregon 7 years ago when their mother was dying. But Minerva didn't have the money or the nerve to fly east.
When she recently heard her terminally ill brother Eppy asked to see her, Minerva's daughter made the arrangements and she's now reunited with her family.
Minerva Rodriguez who was reunited with her family said, "It's amazing because I get to see them again after all these years. I wasn't sure. I didn't want to come because I'm terrified of planes, but I have to go see my baby brother.
Her brother Ramon Alvarado said, "My heart is just racing so fast. It's just beautiful, a beautiful thing, and I appreciate everybody here today."
Mary Picard, Minerva's daughter said, "She was scared to fly and just scared to meet everybody after so many years."
No one can make up for all the lost time, but now that Minerva has reconnected with her family, they can make the most of the years ahead.
Another brother Ricardo Alvarado said, "Now that we found her, we know where she's at and now we'll stay in contact for life."
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