Sunday, 19 April 2009

Death in the Family

All my life, through both childhood and adulthood, I’d had family holidays in the seaside town where most of my birth family lived. Bearing in mind that Wyn and I had no plans whatsoever to meet up, I gave the matter a lot of thought, discussed it with Maria, and wrote to Wyn to say that we would be in her town soon. I thought it would be best for her to be prepared, so that if she should see me in the area, she wouldn’t jump to the wrong conclusion about why I was there (and of course, she could stay indoors all week if she so wished!). I explained that we always took our holidays there, and that my family would think it very odd if I suddenly decided that I wanted to go elsewhere that year.

In the early summer, I received a postcard from Wyn, even though she hadn’t mentioned going on holiday. She asked for the exact dates of my holiday (I’ve no idea why, but presumably I was close when I thought she might want to avoid me), and then explained that she and her husband were away for a few days because her mother had died, they’d had the funeral and cleared her flat, and were taking a well-earned break. I think there was just a little bit of me that wondered why she hadn’t told me that her mother had been taken ill, or tell me of her death sooner. Wyn had already told me previously that her mother had been very good to her when she was expecting me; sending her regular food parcels and money, and even a Mothers’ Day card with mine and Sally’s names at the bottom. Perhaps Wyn thought that I might suddenly turn up at the funeral of the lady who was biologically my grandmother. Yet that saddened me because did my birth mother really think that I would be so crass as to make my presence felt at such an emotional time for the family? I did think that she ought to know me better than that.

Although it was too late for a sympathy card, I did immediately write a note to Wyn, expressing my sincere condolences at losing her mother. For the next few weeks, I heard nothing more from her; we went on our holiday and had a lovely time, and came back to prepare for the new school term in early September. The cards, photographs, letters and phone call had once again given me a false picture of our relationship, and I thought that despite its shaky start, our friendship would continue. That was until I received a phone call during the day from Wyn, totally unexpectedly.

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