Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Going to Meet My People

First,  I would like to thank everyone for their sympathies over the loss of our dog on Monday.  I truly appreciate each and every comment that you left, I really do.

I grew up not knowing one half of my family.  My father left home at 18, joined the air force and landed in Egypt, then Kenya, where he met my mother.  When he left England as a young lad, he left his entire family, choosing to end all contact with them.  We all suspected things were pretty bad on the home front for him, especially with his father, but I always wanted to know my Granny. 

He refused to talk about them. None of us, even my mother knowing their names, nor them ours.
Once in a while he would let something slip, a tidbit, a detail. 
 I etched them into my memory.
I vowed that one day I would find my kin.

When my father died, I had access for the first time to his documents and the names of my grandparents.
My Granny's name was Lily.
I started an internet search.  

I posted and searched missing person ads.  I started and stopped several times, then in 2008, while taking a break from searching birth records in Nottingham (Smith no less) I googled his name and found a short ad for someone looking for a brother who had gone off to Kenya with the air force. With a sister Sheila.  He had mentioned a Sheila.

I answered the ad, gave the few details I knew of my fathers family and we had a match.

56 years after he had left.

There were 10 brothers and sisters.  A couple of them he had never met.
I was correct in my assumption that he had had an abusive and alcoholic father. 
The rest had stuck together, supporting their mum and each other, most attending University despite being dirt poor and living in a council estate, hungry, and down trodden.
He mum had died wondering where he had gone.

I try not to judge him. To leave his family was something he did for very personal reasons. He was a very complicated man.  I do not know his demons.

But we are discovering that despite the hardships, there are some really good people. God knows we could have used these loving aunties and uncles and cousins growing up.  That makes me a bit angry and mostly sad that we were denied them.  Ironically, they sometimes stayed in Lincolnshire, not far from my grandparents home.

I have met several. I found it very odd to look into their eyes and see my father. the family resemblances are very strong.  My one cousin is remarkably like me, both in personality, and in her life story.  When we met, we clicked. I may not have known her for 50 years, but we are definitely kin. 

 Tomorrow we are travelling to Chicago with my brothers to join up with some of them to celebrate Thanksgiving. 



  1. Chania, I think a lot of people are estranged from family members unfortunately. I know I am. I hope and pray that as you reunite with them that all goes well. You are going to Chicago??? Have fun, I love it there.


  2. There are so many families with problems aren't there? I can understand how you feel. I'm glad you had a chance to meet them.

  3. Chania,
    Hopefully this will be time for healing, understanding and reuniting. It was a long time to wait but I'm thankful that you finally have some of the family you've missed. I hope it's a wonderful visit!

  4. How wonderful to have found family. enJOY yourself! Happy Thanksgiving!

    Love marcia
    PS. LOVE LOVE LOVE that BLUE door!

  5. What a lovely ending for your story Chania. Travel well and safely and have a great reunion/Thanksgiving.

  6. What an amazing story - it's like you were adopted and just found your birth family. I'm so glad it worked out well and you have found the extended family you never had before.

    Have a fun Thanksgiving - woah- I just realized you will be having 3 turkey dinners in 3 months. Lucky you!

  7. Have a wonderful reunion with this new found family of yours. As my immediate family has died off I realise how important these connections are. Have a lovely Thanksgiving day with them.

  8. What a wonderful story !
    Families lost and families found... it has happened so many times to so many people and it is always so amazing and miraculous when you get to see them and as you said, look into their eyes and see someone else.
    The saddest part to me was his mom, wondering where her boy was.. but how lovely that you have found each other now.
    Enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving !

  9. What an incredible story. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your growing family.

  10. What a wonderful opportunity. Enjoy Thanksgiving.

  11. what a wonderful story - wishing you the best Thanksgiving ever with your new found family xo

  12. I hope it is everything you hope it to be.

    The bonds of family are strong, complicated and amazing.

    blessings to you all.


  13. What a wonderful and incredible story. I am so glad you found them and I hope your visit is fantastic! Happy Thanksgiving! Kit

  14. Both a heartbreaking and heartwarming story. It's a shame that you missed out on spending time with your family, but how wonderful that after all these years, you've found one another! Hope you're having a fantastic Thanksgiving together in Chicago :-)


  15. I am with A Broad...wondering where her boy went.

    It sounds like a Catherine Cookson family.

    Have a great time with your brother! And enjoy the windy city!

  16. Chania - amazing and wonderful that you found the family you hardly knew existed. So sad when families get ripped apart!

  17. Thanks for sharing your family story and I'm so glad you got to come to the states and share Thanksgiving with your family. I hope you had a really nice time.

  18. What a fabulous tale..I hope that your family builds a wonderful bond from here on in. It's never too late is it?

  19. Wow. What a story. Best wishes and a safe trip.

  20. What a wonderful TRULY have MUCH to be thankful for!



  21. What a powerful story Chania. My father was the eldest of 11 children and left home at 17 to join the Navy because he too had an abusive father. We had very little contact with his side of the family and I don't know most of my relatives on his side. Some of them turned out ok, but many did not so it's unlikely we will ever reconnect. I'm so happy that you were able to find that bond across the miles and years and to have them in your life!

    Kat :)

  22. I'm sorry to hear about Gracie. But I'm happy that you've found your family. Have a lovely reunion! Kellie xx

  23. What a wonderful tale, I hope you meet lots of new family in your quest.


I love to read each and every comment and are thrilled that you take the time to send one. Thank you so much. Chania