When Cindy McCain talks about growing up, she usually refers to herself as an "only child" -- a phrase that ignores the existence of her half sisters.
"It's terribly painful," Kathleen Hensley Portalski said yesterday. "It is as if she is the 'real' daughter. I am also a real daughter."
Portalski and McCain are both children of the late Jim Hensley, the Arizona businessman who founded one of the largest beer distributorships in the nation. Kathleen, 65, is the product of Hensley's first marriage in the 1930s to Mary Jeanne Parks. Hensley divorced Parks for Marguerite "Smitty" Johnson, whom he met at a West Virginia hospital in World War II and married in 1945. Cindy was born nine years later.
But there's more: Cindy McCain has another half sister. Before her marriage to Hensley, Johnson had a daughter, Dixie Burd, by a previous relationship. Burd, who is much older than Cindy, could not be reached for comment.