Bob shared some pictures of his mother with me. She was the spitting image of my mum. They were without doubt half-sisters.
|My mum Pearl|
|Bob's mum Patricia|
We never shared the news with my very old and frail mother. She'd never have understood and thought the world of her father, so why upset her? Sadly she passed away never knowing she had a sister who had also died several years before knowing about her roots.
And then a couple of weeks ago I got another email. This time from Derek in New Zealand. Similar story. Derek and his 6 siblings all thought they knew who their father's father was... until DNA testing showed they were a quarter Jewish. Their father's family didn't have any trace of Jewish ancestry according to ancestry.com. So they did a full DNA match and lo and behold, it matched my grandfather... but this time, it was MY OTHER GRANDFATHER!
|My dad Norman|
|Derek's dad Ernie|
Clearly a resemblance between these two handsome chaps.
BOTH grandfathers had been caught out a century after their nefarious activities by DNA matching. To be fair, unlike naughty Simeon, my father's father, Harold, wasn't married at the time, although he did get married later that same year because he had also got my grandmother pregnant with my father. Two girls 'up the duff' at the same time. Busy lad (at least I assume it was only two!). According to dad's autobiography, his birth certificate was apparently forged to show his birth date in June 1926 (9 months after his parents married) whereas he believed he was actually born in May. So my grandmother was pregnant before she was married and it isn't known if she ever knew of Harold's other accomplishment in the 'family business'. Highly doubtful. So in this instance it was not my grandfather but Derek's grandmother who committed adultery while her merchant seaman husband was, presumably, away at sea. Assuming he could do his maths, it is to his credit that he treated Ernest as his own - although tragically he died a couple of years later and Ernie was brought up by a step dad.
My own father also passed away a few months before I learned of the existence of his half-brother, so we'll never know if he knew about it - although I suspect not.
So now I've got two sets of cousins I never knew I had, and both in Australasia. It's been fascinating getting to know them. Indeed I've now met some of the Australian cousins who have visited the UK since their revelation, and I am hoping in the not too distant future to re-visit New Zealand... where I hope to also meet my newly discovered family over there too.
There was a time when extra-marital sex was so scandalous that families would do everything they could to bury the truth - often to the detriment of mothers and their babies. Thankfully, although not encouraged, most of us have learned that accidents can happen and that the welfare of the mother and child is more important than social stigma. And we've also discovered DNA testing - where familial bonds that were previously unknown have been unearthed and families are brought together who never knew those bonds existed. And that's got to be a good thing. I wonder how many more skeletons there are in my genetic closet... hopefully none of my own :-(