Susan Breaux is well known in Gretna representing Gretna Community Association as current treasurer and past president. She is also the longtime chairperson of the annual C. W. Cox Life Enhancement Award Committee and event.
She is a regular vendor at the Gretna Farmers Market where she operates Sue’s Fudge ‘n Stuff, selling scrumptious pralines and a variety of fudge.
Susan had a really sweet surprise when she returned from vacation to discover that she has twin brothers she knew nothing about!
The discovery was due to the peaked interest of one twin, David J. Ahola who had long been puzzled over what he had been told about his father. The twins lived with their mother in mid-city New Orleans until they were almost six-years-old. She moved and raised the twins in Wisconsin where they reside today.
“Don and I were born in New Orleans at Charity hospital on Aug. 1, 1968. Our grandfather, Donald Ahola traveled to New Orleans from Wisconsin in the mid 1960’s for a business venture and remained until after Hurricane Katrina. My mother took a trip to New Orleans to visit grandpa and there she met who we now know is my father, Paul Breaux,” David said.
“We grew up without a father. We were told he was a merchant marine from Greece, ported in New Orleans with whom she had an on-and-off again relationship during her visit there. Mom raised us the very best she could, working odd jobs, struggling to make ends meet. We grew up with very little, but had each other and that seemed to be enough.
“As I got older, I wondered who I was as a man, why I was the way I was and who I resembled. The questions screamed louder when I became a father myself. God blessed me with four sons, a tremendous responsibility to father them in the best possible way. I had no one to emulate except fathers of close friends. Confusing to me that a man could be aware that he had children, yet not want to be a part of their lives. This upset me, gnawed at me, consumed my thoughts,” he said.
David enjoyed a 30 year military career in the U. S. Army as a paratrooper and recruiter, reaching the rank of Command Sergeant Major. He served overseas and all over the U.S., furthered his education to a Master’s Degree. Upon retirement, he returned to Milwaukee.
The other twin, Donald Ahola and his wife of 17 years, Lisa live in Waukesha, 18 miles from Milwaukee. He has a daughter in the military and a stepson. Don has worked as a manufacturing supervisor with Pak Technologies, a chemical blending plant for 25 years. His hobby is DJing parties.
“During my military career, I accomplished a great deal. My mom and brother were very proud of me, but I longed to share the successes with my father. My sons are my pride and joy. I wished for a relationship with my dad, as I had with my sons,” David said.
“In the early 2000’s, I pursued an international search for the man described as my father with a kit I purchased that took me step-by-step on how to find a relative internationally. After six months of sending letters to embassies with no results, I accepted that I would just never find him.
“In 2018 I read up on DNA testing and bought myself a birthday gift, a DNA kit from “23andMe.” A month later, I was shocked to discover that I was not of Greek descent, that it was impossible for our father to be the man my mom had claimed. A feature of “23andMe” is that it places a small dot on a map representing the site of relatives. It was evident that my father was from the New Orleans area as I had over 400 dots, or relatives in Louisiana alone.”
“It didn’t take long for feedback from a few cousins related to him. Sadly, he had passed away as a young man from a heart attack, but the stunning news was that he had a daughter named Susan Breaux. Imagine that, a sister who was still alive!
“I immediately contacted my mom and to say she was shocked at the news is putting it mildly. I explained that the science of DNA was accurate and it was simply not possible that our father could have been the Greek man she had dated. I reached out to some second and third cousins from “23andMe,” to no avail.
“The results also indicated that we are identical twins and not fraternal twins like my mom had been told at our birth.
“Through continued investigation, my pursuit of Paul Breaux began. Mom remembered that he was a twin himself. I almost hit the floor, amazed that she hadn’t seen this connection.
“Through “My Ancestry,” I found Aunt Adeline Verda, Paul’s sister. Excited, but I had no luck reaching Susan on Facebook Messenger. Learned she was on vacation in Spain and doesn’t travel with a cell phone. Felt like the longest 10 days of my life, worried how Susan would take the news. It turned out OK, we started emailing in November 2019,” he said.
“With so many scams in the world, I didn’t know what to think. First I went to talk to my paran, Uncle Robert Breaux, my dad’s identical twin and he knew nothing of the story, but when I showed him a picture of Don, he said, “Uh, that’s Paul,” Susan said.
“Susan reluctantly took the DNA test herself in early 2020 and shortly after we got the news we already knew. Susan was in fact, my biological sister, which meant Paul Breaux was in fact, our father,” David said.
“When David and I were first communicating, I told him I didn’t know how to feel about all this. He felt the same way. He said he set out to find who his father was and never thought about what would happen if there was close family,” Susan said.
“During the search, I was sensitive to the feelings of the Breaux family. Paul was not here to express his side of the story. I felt like I was on a roller coaster and, even now, after returning from the trip to Louisiana, I am not sure I have fully accepted this as reality.
“Since we got the news, Susan and I have talked on the phone every Sunday getting to know one another and sharing life over the last 50 years. The entire family has been welcoming, warm, loving and just as excited as we are. COVID delayed our meeting but we were finally face to face so we could laugh, cry and hug each other.
“Susan met me at the airport on June 19 carrying a blown up picture of me. We couldn’t believe this was actually happening. When Don and Lisa arrived on a later flight, it felt amazing to have us all together,” David said.
“There was no end to the wonderful visit planned by Susan. The hospitality of the entire family was awesome. When we met Uncle Robert, I realized this was the closest I will ever get to being with my dad. He was warm and gracious and we had a wonderful visit. My dad and uncle were men of service to New Orleans, Paul was a fire fighter and Robert, a police officer. That made me smile all weekend.
“My relatives were in awe that we resembled both my dad and uncle. We heard wonderful stories. It was clear this is a hardworking, loving family that we fit into perfectly. Paul was loved so much, a rock star to all the kids who said they loved his visits and were sad to see him go.
“It still doesn’t feel real to me. I do know that we have a new family in New Orleans and I couldn’t be happier about that,” David said.
“Almost all of my first cousins’ children call me Aunt Susan and I love them, but they are not truly my nieces or nephews. Now I actually have real nieces and nephews and even a great niece and two great nephews. I sent a little gift to my new great nephew recently and received a nice thank you note where I was addressed as “Aunt Susan.” That sure felt good and was a new experience for me,” she said while choking back tears.
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