Today's post is by my mom. This is definitely one of my favourite blog adventures that have come to be because of something that was posted in 2011 and 2014. Read on to find out more...
I have always been intrigued with family history. As as kid, I loved hearing stories about my ancestors and with my vivid imagination, these people always seemed so real to me. I especially loved talking with my friends about the past and took part in the usual childish bantering back and forth about family tragedies, where my ancestors came from, how longed they had lived in Canada, etc. You probably did it yourself as a kid, always wanting to go one better than the next kid … “Yeah, well, you think that’s something, I had a great uncle that once was … ” Yes, you did it too. So every Remembrance Day, I had my bragging rights – I did have an uncle that was killed in World War II. Not many kids could have that claim! And like the broken record I was, I would have to retell his whole story every year! And that would lead on to increasing the sadness of the story by my telling the tale about how years later his widow (my dad’s sister) died suddenly in her early 40’s from sleeping sickness acquired from a Saskatchewan mosquito bite (or so I was told). But back to my Uncle Mike …
Last year on Deena’s Remembrance Day blog (you can read it here), she posted Uncle Mike’s military photo and his story about being killed in action during World War II. Sometime later, she received a comment from a reader who was researching Uncle Mike (her grandfather) and came across Deena’s blog. It didn’t take long to put things together and discover she was my cousin’s daughter!!
So my cousin and I have spent the last past year exchanging family information, photos and memories. It has been wonderful getting acquainted with a relative whom I had never met who also was so interested in finding out more about the family she never knew.
When I would read her emails to my 87 year old dad and share her photos with him, it was really moving to see the feelings that came to him, and painful too to know that he was recalling his dearly loved sister who passed away so long ago and her family who he has lost touch with over the years. So, an idea was planted in my brain. I was thinking how neat it would be if my dad could actually meet this long lost cousin and share his many stories with her. I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much, after all, dad is 87 and he would have to travel all the way to the west coast to meet her. But things all worked out beautifully and we made a wonderful trip to the west coast in September. I was so nervous and excited to meet my cousin in person – it was like going on a blind date I guess! I saw this lady drive into the parking lot of the restaurant where we were to meet, and I knew at once that it was her! It was just a natural thing for both of us to hug and smile from ear to ear! I felt an immediate connection to her and knowing all of my dad’s brothers and sisters, she was clearly one of the clan to me!
My cousin brought along her photos to share with me and I carried my little package of keepsakes to turn over to her. You see, my mom was never an overly-sentimental person and she never held onto to very many things, but she did have what my sister and I called a wooden “treasure chest.” And in it, she had the oddest assortment of items that must have held much meaning and importance to her.
Whenever we could sneak into it, my sister and I would sift through everything in this treasure chest. I’m sure I was the one more interested in the paper contents; my sister was only after mom’s costume jewelry she wore for square dancing.
Mom had kept two particular greeting cards: one from my aunt who had died so suddenly, and one from my newly-found cousin’s mom. Both were get well cards to my dad who had broken his leg back in 1963 while they had been out for a Saskatchewan visit. My mom must have kept the cards because just a couple weeks after they were received, my aunt died. Also saved in the treasure chest, was a Christmas greeting card received from my World War II uncle Mike way back in 1942. I really thought it was important to return these original documents to my new cousin so that they could be shared with her family. Although just a small thing, I knew that seeing a deceased loved one’s handwriting can be a very powerful experience. I am so glad to have been able to fulfill this dream idea of meeting my cousin and also having the terrific experience of seeing her have the chance to hug and visit with my dad, her grandmother’s favorite little brother! And all because of Deena’s blog and a chance hit on a search! Wow!
|Marlene, Willie and Kim, September 2015|