By return of post came a letter from my half-brother (the ‘white’ response!). It was a short, but really kind and lovely letter and, looking at the bottom first to see who the letter was from, what touched me most was that he had signed his name with one kiss underneath. He had to be friendly if he’d put a kiss! He confirmed that my facts were correct and that he was indeed my half-brother; he had no idea of my existence and was therefore shocked at the revelation, but pleasantly so. He gave me his phone number and asked what I would like to do next – ring him, write back or meet. Impetuous as always, I opted for ringing him, the quickest option! Obviously my heart was pounding as I waited for him to answer the phone, only to get his wife because he was putting his children to bed. She sounded very nice, and said that she would get James to ring me back soon. The next hour passed incredibly slowly (of course!) and during that time, I must have driven my husband mad as I was imagining that James must have changed his mind otherwise he’d have rung back by now.
Then the phone rang, ‘Hi Mandy, it’s James’. Wow – this was my brother; I could hardly speak for emotion, excitement and fear of saying the wrong thing. I needn’t have worried – our conversation flowed naturally with no awkward silences and I was amazed that we just seemed like two old friends catching up. We answered each other’s questions and told each other about our families; James was married with three sons, which meant that I was an auntie for the first time, and my son would finally have some cousins! I do remember telling James that I’d thought long and hard about writing to him and his sisters, as his mother had told me that they were a very close family and wouldn’t welcome an ‘outsider’. He was really surprised to hear that she had said that, and dropped something of a bombshell – his mother hadn’t spoken to him, his wife or his children for the last six months. Initially, I was horrified, automatically assuming that this was my fault. The last thing I wanted was to cause trouble within an established family. But no – there had been a very petty disagreement which had led to Wyn telling Sally that she wanted nothing more to do with James.
I did find this very odd on the one hand – how could someone not speak to their grandchildren, even if they were cross with their son? – but somewhat reassuring on the other hand – maybe Wyn’s behaviour was a little irrational and I wasn’t to blame for absolutely everything? There were many more issues here but that story is my brother’s to tell, not mine.