Last October, my mum found an old address in a drawer which belonged to a woman who was connected to her dad, my grandfather, by marriage. Mum almost completely lost touch with him when she was young after a rather acrimonious divorce.
He died in the late 70s leaving two other daughters, one of which was my mum’s half sister called Penny, but with one thing and another, they completely lost touch after he died.
All these years later, mum found the address. Knowing I was researching the family tree, she asked me to see if I could find this lady, Dorothy with the hope that we might find someone who could tell us something of her beloved father and half sister.
I of course jumped online and searched the address but discovered nothing. Being an RAF family, I got in touch with a chap doing RAF research in the Medway towns area and told him the story. He discovered Dorothy had lived at the address for years and years, until just 2008 but had no idea where she had moved on to.
Being in her eighties of course we weren’t sure that she’d actually moved at all or sadly passed away. He however then told me that his wife ran a local paper and if I were to write a letter, she could publish it – which I did and she kindly did too.
Just ten days later, I was emailed by someone called Helen who turned out to be Penny’s cousin! Dorothy’s old neighbor had seen my letter in the paper, got in touch with the family and asked if my name sounded familiar. Helen, despite her husband’s concerns at getting involved, thankfully took the risk and contacted Penny (now living in Tasmania).
She recognised the name (as I of course was a child in the 70s) and she apparently had met me on a couple of occasions – and so we were reconnected.
We emailed to and fro, spoke on the phone – and very quickly for me, I discovered a kindred spirit. I’ve always been the odd one out in the family until now… I’ve met my missing gene pool in Penny! She’s a musician, a bit bonkers, animal mad and slightly into swimming upstream, if you catch my drift. We both do silly things like photographing random pebbles on the beach and take much enjoyment in standing in cowpats – imagine our delight when we could compare pebble photos? Ahh the little things!
We’ve counted down the days for months and a couple of weeks ago, she and her husband Geoff landed in Gatwick with me there for first hugs! As I watched all the people pouring through arrivals, I kept welling up with huge waves of emotion, terrified and excited all at the same time! It was amazing!
Suffice to say, it’s been a great couple of weeks, we’ve talked loads, drunk bucket loads of tea, been to places such as Hever Castle and Wisley Gardens, went rowing in Guildford and been on plenty of pub lunches – we’ve done lots of lovely English things that Penny grew up with but most importantly, we’ve reconnected with family.
For me it’s been precious, for my children it’s been brilliant but for my mum it’s been beyond wonderful and for Penny I know it’s been a real surprise as she thought she had NO family left and had no idea how to find us again – now we’ve all found each other!