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Family Secrets vs The Truth

The Importance of Truth

On my recent UK trip, a momentous event happened in my life – I met my sister for the first time,
after years of waiting for the right time!

 

I thought this would be a simple and straightforward post, but it has  proved to be rather complicated, requiring more background information than I intended to share initially, but necessary I think, in order to help you understand the chain of events.
Having struggled for the past few weeks trying to put this sensitive post together, and in order not to hurt anyone’s feelings, I feel I have now done it justice.   I hope my family feel the same should they read it.
I believe there is nothing like the truth; I feel so strongly about it, because the truth in my case (once it was revealed) has blessed and enriched my life in more ways than I would have ever thought possible.

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I Find My Father at the Age of 29

All families have secrets, and mine is no exception. I grew up not knowing who my father was – nothing unusual in that I hear you say, but in my case, it has had far reaching effects for my family for over 50 years. The truth has a way of coming out, given time.

All I knew about my dad was his name and that he lived in the same town where I was born, and that he was a piper in the Scottish Black Watch Regiment.  But I was determined to find him, I needed to meet him and find my roots.
After years of making inquiries and coming up against brick walls time after time, I finally did it!  I was 29.

When I made contact, he was shocked to say the least, but ecstatic that I’d found him. We talked about the past, my mother and how I came to be. I was enthralled listening to him – he answered questions I’d wondered about for years about him and my mother.  We talked about how attitudes  were so different back then – unmentionable stuff like having a baby out of wedlock or being adopted, tended to be shoved under the carpet and never talked about – my very birth and existence being one of those “unmentionables”.

He told me that I had a half-brother and sister! Wow! I knew he had a son, because my mother had volunteered that piece of information when I told her I’d found my dad. In fact, when we were kids, that little boy and I were best friends, neither of us knowing we were related; we were never told.  All those wasted years – so sad…

Let me go back a few years and give you some background information on my parents, as I feel it necessary for you to understand the circumstances of events. I’m sure you’ll get the gist.

My Dad in his Black Watch Uniform

World War II Starts

My parents are both from Scotland and lived in the same town. They dated when my mother was about 18, but when World War II broke out in 1939, my dad volunteered, joining the Scottish Black Watch Regiment as a piper, and got shipped overseas almost straight away. He’d only been a soldier for three months before he was captured and sent to a camp in Poland as a Prisoner of War, where he remained for most of the war – and survived. He tried to keep in touch with my mother but it wasn’t easy to send or receive letters from a Prisoner of War camp, so their communication was very sparse. He did manage to escape into Russia, and was eventually repatriated with his regiment, back in Scotland.

Mum aged 18 in Dad's uniform

In the meantime, my mother had married someone else and had two sons before my dad came back from the War in 1945. However, the marriage had broken down and they had separated, so mum was on her own raising two little boys and living with her parents. In spite of mum having two small children, my dad started dating her again – and they got me! They couldn’t get married until her divorce came through, but in  those days, divorces were not easy to get, especially if it was a ‘messy” divorce, as I think my mother’s was, sometimes taking years.

For whatever reason, my dad eventually started a new life with someone else, had two children, lived in the same town so he would have seen me grow up knowing I was his daughter – and the rest is history.
I left Scotland at the age of 10 and was 29 before I saw that little boy again – my brother!

Sadly, I only knew my dad for 14 years before he passed away, but during those years we kept in constant touch and visited each other often, and I finally got to know that little boy I played with as a child, as my brother. At this stage I still hadn’t met my other sister but I kept in touch with my brother, his wife and their two daughters, my nieces.

I Finally Meet My Sister 

For lots of reasons, I never got to meet my sister until my recent trip to the UK in September of this year. Before my father died, he had told her about me, so she was keen to meet me too. Talk about being nervous!

My brother had arranged a family reunion at his home in Scotland, and that’s when I met her, as well as two of her grown children (my nephew and niece), and also great nieces and nephews! My sis is a bubbly lady, full of fun with a great sense of humour, and leads a very busy life being a game-keepers wife. I liked her straight away, and our relationship was easy, with no awkward moments, in spite of all my worrying! We were very comfortable with each other. I so much wanted to be accepted into the family by her; after all, we had the same blood running through our vein; she, my brother and I had the same father! We were blood kin.

We talked endlessly that night, trying to get to know as much about each other as we could, filling in the missing years and swapping photographs. I remember a lot of flashing cameras going off around us, recording the event! It was a wonderful night – a time of building bridges for our whole family.

My brother was in his element, having his two sisters fussing over him – as it should have been years ago.

My sister, brother and me

I can’t get over the fact that I played with him as a child and never knew he was my brother! And my father lived in the same small town. Why weren’t we told?
Tragically, that’s how it was back then; secrets no-one wanted to talk about. Thank goodness things have changed.

Now I have found my whole family, we are complete; my siblings have grown from two brothers and one sister that I grew up with – to three brothers and two sisters!
Family is precious, and for me and mine, a whole new world has opened up for us.

Truth Matters

Truth is so important, it shouldn’t be held back – it causes too much damage and heartache.

In my family we have lost so many years because of holding back the truth.

However, the past is in the past where it belongs and we are now all looking ahead to the future, working on making our family stronger – all because of TRUTH

My UK Trip – The Scottish Side

On my recent trip to the UK I re-visited my birthplace in Scotland, catching up with family, going down memory lane and it was very special part of my whole trip.

Our first week was spent in the small picturesque town where I was born, Peebles, in the Scottish Borders, about 20 miles south of Edinburgh. Peebles has a population of about 8,000.
My heart skipped a beat as we got nearer, passing through stunning countryside – and then I remembered why I loved it so much – rolling green hills covered in purple heather, nosey sheep grazing in paddocks, (sometimes wandering onto the road), narrow lanes wide enough for only one car, dry stone walls covered in lichen – everything exactly as I remembered from my childhood.

I was going home!

About Peebles
The town of Peebles lies where the River Tweed and Eddleston Water meet (known locally as “The Cuddy”). The River Tweed is world famous for salmon fishing, and interestingly, Peebles Coat of Arms comprises of three salmon – with one going against the flow!
Initially a market town, it played a big part in the woollen industry of the Scottish Borders up until the 1960’s, and my father worked at the local mill for many, many years.

The town has been a Royal Burgh since 1152 and the rule of King David I, and is steeped in history.

13th Century Cross Kirk. I walked past these church ruins every day on my to and from school, and never gave it a second thought!

 

 

15th Century Tweed Bridge - magnificent!

 

 

Catching Up With Family
We stayed with my brother and his family and it was wonderful catching up. Their daughters, my nieces, are now grown women but they haven’t forgotten me, and it felt good getting to know them again.  This photo was taken in 1986 – the last time I saw them.

My son sandwiched between my two nieces - Happy Days!

My brother hasn’t changed – he still doesn’t talk much, is very easy going and doesn’t get stressed by anything; he just takes things as they come – and I wouldn’t change him for the world. Love you bro!
His wife, my sister-in-law, makes up for my brother in the talking department, (I mean that in the nicest possible way M!), so she brought me up to date on what’s been happening in their lives over the last 20-odd years since I last saw them!
My sister-in-law made Haggis and Stovie Tatties, (haggis, turnip and potatoes)

Haggis, Neeps & Potatoes

for dinner on our first night – all because I said I couldn’t wait to taste some haggis again! Unfortunately, it wasn’t the hub’s cup of tea – I think it must be an acquired taste!

Down Memory Lane
It was very emotional to be back in my birthplace; it holds so many happy memories for me, and my heart was brimming with emotion as I strolled along the same streets I had walked as a child. Nothing much has changed in all these years except for the appearance of two supermarkets!  The same butcher’s shop is still there and it is still the best butcher in town – they sell the best tasting haggis for miles around!
I re-visited some childhood places with my brother – he took me to the school we both went to, we strolled down the street where I was born (now a Listed street), and I saw the very house where I came into the world. As I stood there gazing up at it, Iwas glued to the spot, and all sorts of memories came flooding back from my childhood. We lived there with my grandparents and pictures kept flashing through my mind of my grandfather sitting me on his knee and singing to me – our special song, and I still remember the words to this day.
I remember the day my mother cut my hair short and got told off by her mother, my gran. Apparently the reason she cut it was because I always used to cry when she tried to get a brush through it (it was thick and curly) – and she wasn’t exactly gentle – ouch.

We walked down to the river (known locally as The Cuddy), which runs through the heart of Peebles;

The Cuddy

 The Cuddy is where my brothers and I used to go fishing for minnows and take them home in a jam jar – much to mum’s annoyance!

I even met a real-life Author!
My brother’s wife took me to the Parish Church to meet a local lady called Anne Derrick who has written a book about what it was like growing up in Peebles in the 50’s and 60’s, my era! I got a copy of her book and it was a very nostalgic read for me, re-kindling many memories from my own happy childhood. Thanks Anne, I love the book and the photographs you dug up are awesome!

We had a big family reunion one night, and it was wonderful to catch up with everyone, some I’ve never even met before. That deserves a post of its own, because I want to tell you about a very emotional and long anticipated meeting with a family member.

Big surprise in store, so watch this space!

Have you ever re-visited your birthplace? How did it make you feel?

Back from my UK Trip

 


We arrived home two days ago from our UK trip, both of us sick, so we have been in bed for most of the two days – catching up on sleep and trying to get better! I am feeling slightly more human today, and ready to share some of my trip with you.

Our trip turned out to be eventful right from the start, because
my husband got sick and was admitted to hospital the second day after we arrived.
We had numerous visits to doctors during the course of our stay, as he wasn’t improving, so we had to change some of our plans to visit family and friends in other parts of the UK.
However, it all worked out in the end, and we accomplished what we had set out to do as regards visiting, and in spite of the hub being so ill, we thoroughly enjoyed our trip, and have some wonderful and special memories of our time there..

I have lots to share with you, and will start off with some photos of my visits with my mother, as promised.

The main reason for the trip was to visit my mother who is 91 and has been in a Care Home since she had a stroke almost eight years ago.  I touched on my initial visit with my mother in a previous post, (yes, she did remember me!), but hadn’t been able to upload any photos at the time, so as promised, here are some.

Mum & me - first visit

Hub, Mum, me & my brother

 

Deep in conversation

Sadly, mum has lost her speech since the stroke, she can only say a few small words, but she listens and understands most of what is going on around her. She was so happy to see me and the hub and I think she thoroughly enjoyed our visits. When I had to tell her I was returning home to Australia, she looked me right in the eye and said “No! You stay here”. . . then she smiled at me.

It was hard leaving that last day; she waved goodbye to us till we disappeared from her sight and I felt a terrible wrench in my heart  - I wanted to run back and give her another hug, but that would probably have upset both of us even more. I wish we didn’t have thousands of miles between us as it makes it a long time between visits. All I can do is write to her as often as I can and tell her how much I love her.
I hope my brothers will read out my blog to her about my trip, because I know she will be interested in where I’ve been, what I’ve done and whom I have seen on my visits – especially the time I spent in Peebles, Scotland, as that is where she was raised and where my brothers and I were all born and raised.

I have lots to share with you mum, and some special photos to show you.
I love you.

 

 

My UK Trip

On 6th September the hub and I flew to the UK from Australia via Singapore. Not a bad flight, just so long.

We sat opposite a family with three children who were all coughing and sneezing – danger signals for us, as the hub suffers with COPD (emphysema). Sure enough, he picked up a germ and on our second day in the UK, he was admitted to hospital as he was having trouble breathing. The doctor thought he might have a blood clot in one of his lungs because of the long flight, but after x-rays, etc., they said it was a virus, complicated by his COPD. He was in hospital for two days then discharged, with medication.
The doctor said he would be fine to travel, so we drove up to Scotland to visit family and friends.

We stayed with my brother and his wife who live in a little town called Peebles (my birthplace).

Tweed River, Peebles

I haven’t seen my brother and his family in 25 years, and it was wonderful to catch up with them all again.
The highlight of the visit was a pre-arranged meeting with my sister whom I have never met before (long story), and we got on like a house on fire!  We are alike in a lot of ways – she is a very matter of fact, down to earth kind of person who loves and works with animals and loves the land. Her hubby is a Gamekeeper and my sister is very much hands-on helping him. She is bubbly and bright and fun to be with, and I think if I lived in Scotland, we would be great pals. As it is, we have to make do with the internet, but that’s ok – at long last we have met each other!

sister-in-law, me and my "new" my sister

My brother had arranged a big family reunion, so I met nephews and nieces for the first time, and great nephews and nieces too! It was wonderful and very emotional.

However, the hub started to get really sick again with a hacking cough, temperature, etc. Long story short, we drove back down to England and I took him straight to the hospital where he had been admitted when we first arrived in the UK. It had gone from a virus to a chest infection  - and he now has pneumonia. So our traveling has been curtailed for the time being until he feels better, and able to get back on the road. He has started to improve today, so things are looking up.

My mother is 91 and has been in a Nursing Home for the last seven years following a stroke. I was worried that she might not recognize me when I visited her, but she did! She was smiling from ear to ear and couldn’t take her eyes off me. She held my hand for the whole two hours we spent with her and both staff and some of the other patients kept coming to have a look at me! Now they know that I’m not a figment of her imagination!
I felt a bit like a celebrity, with all the fuss!
Mum looked really well and was able to talk to me a little, and she never lost the smile from her face. We took some pics but haven’t uploaded them from the camera yet so please bear with me!

So that’s my trip so far, more to follow as time and internet connections permit!

Spring has Sprung in Oz!

Today, September 1  is the first day of Spring in Australia!

Yes, winter is officially over, although we can’t really grumble because our winters up here in sub-tropical Queensland are mild to say the least. We have cold nights with a low of 5C, and beautiful warm days up to 26C.
Not so in other states further south where the temperatures get below freezing in winter, and in some places, it even snows!

Our State of Queensland is often described as “Beautiful one day, perfect the next” and it’s so true.
Now we are in Spring, the temperatures start to rise steadily, bringing life and colour back into the garden again.

Sure, we get our share of cyclones and floods in the wet season (December/January), but we take it all in our stride as Queenslanders do and just get on with the clean-up once it’s over – like true Aussie battlers!

Just wanted to let you know.

On September 5, I am flying to the UK where it will be Autumn (fall), and I’ve been warned to bring plenty of winter woolies! I’ll be away for a month, so when I return home, our Spring will be in full swing!

Leaving on a Jet Plane

I can’t believe it’s almost here!

In only ten days I will be flying to the UK for a whole month, catching up with family and friends.

 Australia to England is about 23 hours actual flying time, so I’m not looking forward that part, but it will be worth it when I get to hug my family and friends whom I haven’t seen for seven years.

 I’m really looking forward to seeing my mother again; she is 91 and had a stroke seven years ago. I flew over to Lancashire, in the North of England at the time, and spent three weeks with her before returning home.  She lost the use of her right side as well as her speech and never fully regained either, so she has been in a Nursing Home ever since.

The hub has family in the same town and we both have old-time friends there,  so we have a lot of visiting lined up for us!

We also both have family in Scotland where I have another brother and sister. I haven’t met my sister (long story) but my brother and his wife have arranged for us to meet on this visit. I feel quite nervous and a bit apprehensive about meeting her – I suppose she feels the same about meeting me, her big sister! It will be some meeting, that’s for sure; hope it goes ok.

We will spend a week in Scotland and then on the drive back to England, I have arranged to meet an internet friend at Gretna Green! We have been friends for years so we thought we’d grab this chance to meet each other whilst we had the opportunity – how exciting! Will tell you all about that when I get back!
Then we drive back down into Lancashire, England to spend the rest of our time there, visiting my mother and catching up with friends and other family members.

My friend is looking after our dog Poppy whilst we are away but I’m already paranoid about leaving her. Yes I know, she will be fine, I know she will, I keep telling myself that.  I’m just a worry-wort and will really miss her.

Poppy

 I’ll probably miss her and home so much that I’ll want to come back after two weeks – especially if the English weather is still as I remember it! I’m not used to dull, dismal rainy days! My brother told me to bring some woolly jumpers as it’s freezing in Scotland. Thanks bro!

Depending on internet connections where ever we are on our travels, I will try to write one or two posts just so you don’t forget about me!
And don’t worry, I will take lots of photos to share with you guys when I get back – and I’m sure I will have some stories to tell.

Hope you will still be here when I get back!