The day after our arrival in Mildura I was to meet another relative. He was Alice’s father and although he hadn’t had his DNA tested his father had and was the second closest match to me. He couldn’t tell me much more than I knew but was very pleasant and interested to hear all about our discoveries.
After he left, Denise and I spent the afternoon examining all the descendants of Thomas Turner *, Ted’s father. Whoever my father was I was undoubtedly descended from Thomas. We both felt we need to find out more about Ted’s two brothers as Hugh*, Ted’s son, was ruled out. He had been in England and Europe at the time of my conception.
It was next morning when I heard excited voices outside and a knock on our caravan door. When I opened it Denise said, “Hello, Aunty”. She had just discovered that Ted, her grandfather, was almost certainly my biological father.
Now let me go back to how this information was obtained. Ted had a son called Hugh, who is still alive and in his 90s. Hugh had a son who became a scientist and is now working in the United States. His specialty is DNA although he is applying his research to chickens rather than humans. When Denise rang him and told him of the discovery of a new family member he asked for all my matches and corresponding centimorgans. He is absolutely sure that the only possible candidate for my biological father is his grandfather Ted Turner.
When I received the news I read the email several times over. Denise’s cousin insisted that it was not necessary or even wise to test any more people. There could only be one result. Denise talked to her sister on the phone and decided not to tell her mother as it might be too much of a shock. Her mother, Edith* is 96, lives on her own, drives a car and plays the piano! It is quite surreal to think we might have the same father.
My new half sister, Edith, arrived in time for morning coffee. She thinks I am descended from one of Ted’s brothers. That is what we all thought until that morning. Denise planned to take me to visit Jane* that afternoon. Jane is Denise’s aunt and is the daughter of one of Ted’s sisters. That makes her my cousin.
Jane’s house was cool and inviting after the heat outside. A computer sat on a table in the lounge room surrounded by stacks of folders. She served tea (with lemon for me), asparagus rolls and home made vanilla slice. As she talked I took photos of numerous birth, death and marriage certificates which will hopefully make sense when I study them properly.
Edith was looking tired as we made our way out through the masses of tall plants lining the pathway. The gardens in Mildura amaze me. In the middle of a desert an abundance of English and European plants are kept alive by water from the Murray.
Denise drove us out to Red Cliffs to look at the house where Thomas and his wife had lived. It now stands empty but Edith recalled happy times staying there with her grandparents whenever her mother was having a baby.
Next stop was the cemetery. First we found the graves of Thomas and his wife. Later we came upon the war grave of Edward (Ted) Turner.
You might be wondering if I felt a connection to my new cousins or saw a family resemblance to any of them. Apart from the fact that apparently Ted had brown hair and brown eyes like my own there is nothing about Ted Turner or his descendents that appears in any way similar to me or my children. When you consider the dilution of DNA from other family members that is not surprising. I did find however that they were all very friendly and welcoming. I had reconnected with my birthplace and developed a new interest in its history and the life of Ted Turner.
* Not their real names.