Life moves in circles – well if not true circles then certainly in curves where experiences meet and part only to sweep around and meet again. I suppose you could call them coincidences but – I wonder sometimes.
I grew up in a family unit of four: Mum, Dad, my sister and me. We had no grandparents, aunts, cousins and although I was always a bit wistful about it, it never occurred to me that the situation could be changed. Neither of my parents knew anything about their parentage. My father didn’t find out his real name until he was in his forties and applied for a passport when he had to acquire a copy of his birth certificate. Looking back, I can only dimly understand what that must have meant to him; certainly he never wanted to discuss the matter, even years later when I tried to raise it with him.
My mother was different. When her birth certificate arrived she discovered that for forty years she’d been celebrating her birthday on what had been her christening day; so we all made that adjustment as well. She was different, too, in that she wanted to know about her birth parents but none of us had any idea how to set about such a task. This was years before computers entered the home or records became available on line.
By the time I had the necessary knowledge and time to begin research, my father had died and my mother was ailing. I sat down with her on several occasions to find out what little she could remember from her earliest days; surprisingly there were ten facts which she recalled every time and they became the framework of my search. It took me nearly twenty years to unravel the mysteries of her mother, my grandmother, sadly, too late for mu mother to know. My paternal grandmother took longer and is still not definitely confirmed.
The odd thing, the curve, is that both these grandmothers lived within twenty miles of us while we were growing up – and we never knew. Both they and we moved often yet ended close by. Life circled around tantalisingly close with the answer to our questions, leaving us in ignorance.
During my genealogical research, I have found many other instances where I lived unknowingly within easy visiting distance of cousins, uncles and other relatives. I have moved around a lot – different countries, towns, jobs – and so did my mysterious relatives and yet – and yet – time and again we have been near to each other without knowing. Just coincidences? Perhaps. Or were we caught in the circles of our shared heritage? ESP or telepathy would have been so useful!