As I parked in front of the pretty little bungalow in Seasalter, Kent, England I felt anxious about the ‘strangers’ I was about to meet. My mother must have felt the same because when I urged her to go ahead while I got my things together she hesitated. In that garden waited the descendants of her father’s family…children of uncles and aunts who were part of her childhood but only one who played any role in the rest of her life. My Grandfather’s parents had eight children – the first two and the last two were sets of twins…seven boys and one girl. Mary (91) the wife of the youngest brother, John, was there as the only representative of that generation.
We rounded the corner and there was a tentative ‘Maureen and Carol from Canada?’ and the tension melted away. Old photos were passed around, lives were caught up on, reminiscences shared and tears shed. We marvelled at our common ancestors.
A chart was produced to consult about who belonged to whom and where our roots began…the threads of our lives woven together.
The sun shone down on us all afternoon and the hours passed as quickly as the years we were recalling. We gazed into each others faces, openly and with hope to see if we could find a part of ourselves looking back.
It was an afternoon filled with delight and discovery and when it was over we were content, our curiosity satisfied…for now. Would we stay in touch? Would we work on our family connections? We fully intended to when we said we would but as with so much of our busy life perhaps not…we’ll see. But for one afternoon our family’s history lived in a garden in Seasalter.