It is nearly a month since the A to Z finished but time moves on and there has been a new development.
Denise told me she was organising a family gathering centred around her mother and her mother’s sister. Her mother (Edith) is my half sister but doesn’t know how close our relationship is. The other sister lives in Tasmania and they hadn’t seen each other for a few years. In that time the sister in Tasmania had developed Alzheimers and sometimes couldn’t recognise her own family members.
As well as the sisters there would be their children who are my nieces and nephews even though they are mostly around my age. My daughter said to me I should go as otherwise I might never have the chance of seeing either of my half sisters again. My husband gallantly offered to accompany me so we set off with Jetstar for Melbourne and an Air B&B I had booked in the same suburb as the family reunion.
Denise, her sister and Hugh’s son were in the car that picked us up from the airport. The most exciting news for me was that Hugh, my half brother, would be there. Unlike my two half sisters he knew who I was and it was with some trepidation I looked forward to our meeting. Apparently he had come to terms with the fact we shared the same father and he had some interesting news for me. Six months after I was born he returned from a two year trip to England and Europe. He was working in a business related to his father’s and shared an office with my mother and father. He remembers them both and also recalls bouncing a baby on his knee. That was me but of course he didn’t know then that we were actually brother and sister.
The most heartwarming moment for me was when he put his arms around me and said, “Welcome to the family”.
I was delighted to meet my other half sister who despite her memory loss was still feisty and chirpy. She looked at me for a while and asked how I was related to the family. She was sure she had seen me before but I assured her she hadn’t. She was once a talented teacher and artist and until recently was able to care for herself but now lives in a nursing home. My other sister remembered me from our meeting last year with a few gentle reminders but sadly will never know our true relationship.
The nieces and nephews were all very welcoming. Some of their children and grandchildren called in as well so by the end of the second afternoon my head was spinning.
On the final day I had arranged a meeting with Alice, my first cousin twice removed. She had been one of my early contacts after the DNA results came out. She is Ted Turner’s sister’s great grandchild. We arranged to have coffee and by chance her parents had flown down from Mildura that weekend. It was good to catch up with them and amazing to think that a simple DNA test could turn up so many relatives, however distant.
I’m now home again and reflecting on the weekend. As I only live two hours drive from my half brother Hugh I am hoping to see more of him. Because he lived in the same small coastal town as some people I knew I asked if he was aquainted with them. They turned out to be very good friends of his. When I told him who they were he was astonished.
My mother was widowed at the age of 43. In her early 60s she met and married a Dutchman, Frank, who had emigrated to Australia in 1951. Prior to marrying my mother he had four adult children. One of them was Anne, who now lives in the same village as Hugh. So my half brother and his wife are friends with my step-sister and her husband. I have lost contact with Frank’s children since his death but it is still a remarkable co-incidence.
Reading through this I realise what a tangled tale it is. If you have followed through the A to Z you might make some sense of it. None of us will ever know what really happened back in 1950 but there is no doubt that I have suddenly found myself part of a large, extensive and very welcoming family.