Reunions

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.

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Flying to Melbourne

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.

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Reflection

 

A-to-Z Reflection [2018]

As the week is rolling by I am starting to panic.  I haven’t done my post because I wanted to thank all those people who commented on my blog, read all their blogs and get down their details to share with others.  All the jobs I have put off for a month are crying out to be attended to and suddenly I have no time.

The original plan was to use the A to Z as a motivation to write.  The purpose of the writing was to make a record for my family of my DNA discovery with as much detail as possible.  I didn’t dream that so many people would follow my posts and comment on them.  It encouraged me enormously so thank you one and all.  I tried to comment in return and read all your blogs but ran out of time.  My posts were semi prepared at the beginning of April but still required a lot of last minute changes and additions.  In the middle of April we went on a road trip with our caravan for ten days which didn’t help.

My task now is to put the 26 posts into a book.  I am using Photobookclub for this.  I have had a number of photo albums made through them and thought that I could get five copies made for family and new relatives.  All the names have to be changed back to the real ones and now I am putting in photos of the people who had to remain anonymous.

My biggest problem is my mind is continually planning A to Zs.  One minute I am thinking “Travels in our Caravan” with A for Abrolhos Islands, B for Bourke, C for Carnarvon Gorge.  Then, inspired by “Retirement Reflections” I am thinking A for Aqua Jogging, B for Book Club, C for Cycling.

I want to thank the organisers of the A to Z this year.  I can’t imagine what it was like for them to manage this huge, ungainly beast.  It was a lot of fun and next year I resolve as others have done to:

1) Have all posts written before April.

2) Reply to all comments on my blog.

3) Comment on as many other people’s blogs as possible.

4) Mention all the blogs I enjoyed in “Reflection 2019”.