They say truth is stranger than fiction. If I wrote the novel of my life, no one would believe it.
About ten years ago, I had a letter out of the blue from two sisters which threw me into emotional turmoil. They had discovered from my mum that I existed and were desperate to let me know they cared and wanted to keep in touch. They went to extraordinary lengths to track me down.
However for me, pursuing contact with them meant considering a relationship with my mum and, at the time, Nan was still alive and it didn’t feel right. I didn’t bear my mum any malice. I knew she must have had her reasons for giving me up, but I had my own family and didn’t want my happy, secure life unsettled. Eventually I decided it was best not to open any ‘cans of worms’ and chose to leave the door on the past firmly closed, and turned my back on them all.
Nan brought me up from the age of two as neither my mum nor dad wanted me. Or that was what I was led to believe for forty years anyway. It wasn’t until Nan died eight years later and I saw my dad for the first time since I was a teenager, that I discovered things were not quite as I’d thought…
Hearing these revelations from my dad were devastating. All those wasted years. All that time of thinking my parents didn’t want me. But it was my sisters I couldn’t stop thinking about...
I'd always known about them. When I was about nine years old I remember visiting my other Nanny and Granddad and my mum being there with a toddler and a baby in a carry-cot. She hugged me to her and cried and cried, and I wondered why she had given me away yet she’d had two more daughters.
My sisters were innocents in it all too. I dug out their letters which I’d kept from all those years ago and found their children’s names and my sisters married names, and I started to imagine what they were like and if only I could see them through a one-sided mirror, like in a police station. After about a year of obsessing about them, I decided to try and look them up.
Oh, the power of social networks. It didn’t take long to find them on Friends Re-united and Facebook. Then my best friend persuaded me to send them a message. A couple of hours later, their simple two line response came back. They were so pleased to hear from me and would LOVE to keep in touch. Within two weeks of being FB friends we spoke on the phone and less than a couple of months later, they travelled to South Shropshire to visit just a couple of weeks after I had major surgery.
That was last February; just over a year ago. Since then, mum and my sisters have been over to stay. I’ve been back to Hull (where I originated from) to see them and met their families. We speak every week and text each other most days.
When I discovered my ex’s second affair last June, they gave me unbelievable strength and support. His first affair, seven years ago nearly destroyed me emotionally and some of the decisions I made then to stay with him then were based on all my old insecurities. Pain and knocks to my self-esteem were preferable to rejection; my Achilles heel. But second time around, the old demons are gone and now, as well as having the best friends in the world, I have a mum and my sisters (as well as my dad, and a half-brother and sister and their families.)
I consider myself truly blessed and know I’ll never feel loneliness again. Part of me regrets that I missed out so many years of having them in my life but hey, it’s funny how things work out, isn’t it? Our relationship is natural. It feels as if we were never apart. Perhaps having children of my own helped me understand why mum made some of the decisions she did and understand how difficult it must have been for her. It’s taken a couple of years to come to terms with Nan’s actions too, but I've forgiven her. I owe Nan everything and had so much love and attention, I never felt disadvantaged for not having a mum or dad. Life would have been so very different had she not taken me in and adopted me as children’s homes in the 60’s or 70’s were not the best of places. Nan simply protected me, (and herself, of course.)
My sisters tell me mum has changed over the last year or so too. She is happy and carefree. Her eyes smile when she laughs these days because she’s free of the burden she carried for all those years, overjoyed to have me and my boys in her life again. Her family is complete.
There is nothing like a mother’s Love, and my Nan’s. How lucky I am to have had both.
Happy Mother’s Day to them, and to mother’s everywhere.
Until another day
Notable Philadelphia: 9/19–9/25
3 hours ago