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.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO MY AMERICAN FRIENDS.