Canadian cousins coming out of the woodwork

I love that Mum’s blog is still doing what she set it up for, three years after she died.

Mum wanted a place to share her family research publicly, so that it would be immortalised and be there for generations to come. She wanted there to be a place for her family to go when they were interested in particular members of the family, to find out what their special place in our family was.

She wanted stories that were buried years ago to be brought in to the open so we could all learn from them.

How fantastic that in the last couple of weeks two separate cousins via our fascinating Canadian Connection, have been researching Crout’s and been led to me, via Mum’s blog.

The photo above is of Leslie Eden Crout (Les).  He was one of the half brother of my Grandad’s, same father, different mother.

The two people who contacted me are both connected to Les.

One lives in Brooklyn and is Les’ grandson.

The other one lives in Canada and is the descendant of Andrew, Les’ wife’s brother.

Both of their heads are spinning now I’ve told them how Les had a half brother, Harry Scarborough Crout, who was for years older than Les and lived in England with his mother. He then went to Australia when he was 16. and stayed on after his mother passed away three years later and then ended up marrying my Nana. It is taking a while for it to all make sense to them, which is understandable. As I said to them, I’ve had years of processing, to get to this point.

Geez, it’s a bit scarey that how these Canadian Cousins all fit together is making so much sense to me now. I really am turning in to my mother! I know she’d be rapt.

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Stace – two years without you

My friend for almost 38 years, my partner in everything hilarious for the last three of those years, you have been gone now for two.

So much laughter and happiness left my life the day I said my final goodbye to you.

I am lucky to be able to still hear your laugh when my mind is still and I concentrate.

So much has happened and so much is different now. I miss your family who I also saw regularly over those last three years. I imagined that I would still see them, except for Glenn and very occasionally Jess and Jayden, I don’t. I hold Glenn’s friendship close and make sure I keep in contact with him. I’m really glad that my friendship with him has grown from just being about my bond with you. We are bonded by Jay and Bruce now as well as our own long history, thanks to you.

Thanks to that phone call you made to him in high school, pretending to be Allison Hayes asking if he liked you. Thank God you made that phone call and brought him in to my life.

Jayden is working and Jess has gone out on her own, standing on her own two feet. I know you would be proud of them as you always were.

Vikki and Adam have moved in to a great little place – you would be so happy to see her so happy there.

Your Mum and Dad are moving to Victor. A massive thing for your family, leaving the family home (finally) and moving somewhere that makes them happy. I’m so pleased for them.

Glenn is working – too hard. He needs to keep busy, to keep moving to keep his mind away from thinking too much and getting too blue. He’s finding his way, in his way. He’s about the only one that I feel like I am able to keep my promise to you to look after for you.

Rachel and Jim have been travelling a lot and loving it by the looks of the photos.

The rest are finding their own way to look after themselves.

We all miss you. The void you have left is huge and the glue that held us all together – you – is gone. Things are very different.

I remember Stace. I remember all the fun, the laughter, the happy tears streaming down our cheeks, the sad ones occasionally escaping, your octopus arms, Sandra being too nice to strange people in the hospital.

I have a new person who has come in to my life who kept throwing me the other day by saying “REALLY?!” in EXACTLY the way you said it – over and over. It made me smile, but it made me ache inside.

I love you friend.

Kathleen Mary Crout – love you Nana

Ten years ago today, I lost my very much loved Nana and my Mum lost her much loved Mum and became an orphan.

Mum and I sat with Nana and held her hand as she passed away peacefully, in my mind. Mums experience was that it was a terrible passing – that Nana wasn’t given sufficient morphine to keep her fully sedated.  That always made me uneasy that our experiences and memories were so different. It made me sad that it tortured Mum so much and I never really knew how to discuss it with Mum without feeling as though I was challenging her.

Three years and two months ago, I then held my Mum’s hand as she took her last breath. Hers was not a peaceful passing, lung cancer will do that. Struggling to get sufficient air in to your lungs is scary and trying to find a comfortable position is exhausting. Thankfully it was quick, but Mum was nowhere near as settled as Nana was and it plays on my mind that if Mum thought Nana’s passing was terrible, I really hope she wasn’t tortured in her final hours.

One VERY big difference was that Mum was not deserted in the years leading up to her death by her closest family. She was the lifeblood of our family, right there in the centre. She knew it and she loved it. Her kids were her greatest achievement, her greatest joy and her best friends. She had a deep and loving bond with her son and daughters “in-love” and she was adored by all of her four grandchildren. And we were all there in the room with her in her final hours (except for Lisa who was overseas) and most of us were in the room when she took her last breath. She made sure of it –  she waited for my husband to make it from the other side of town and 15 minutes before her last breath when Cullen and I were out if the room, she knew her time was coming and she called for us.

I tell myself that wasn’t a tortured passing. She was able to be conscious right up to the last moments – so she could wait for Bruce and call for her kids when she needed to. She was in a lot of pain and had been for hours, but she had found a way to transcend the pain, so she chose not to ask for drugs. I have wondered why we didn’t push for morphine to make  her difficulty in breathing less traumatic for her, but things happen the way they should and she wanted to be present in mind and choose when to go, which could be quicker than if drugs dulled her senses.

This was going to be a post about Nana – on the 10th anniversary of her passing, remembering her and what an amazingly strong woman she was and how she influenced my life. I miss my Nana, but bloody hell I miss my Mum more. I guess this was supposed to be a post about both of them and how 10 years ago we had to learn to live without Nana and then seven years later, I had to learn to live without my Mum.

I wish I had’ve talked to Mum more about her experience of losing her Mum. How difficult it was for her and how she felt.

But then again, maybe I didn’t want to face it. Now that I know how painful it is to lose the most important person in your life, maybe I actually couldn’t have coped with what she would have told me back then. I think she knew that and that’s why she didn’t talk to me about it.

I love you Nana and I love you Mum.

Two amazing women.

Much loved, and greatly missed.

 

Mum’s Diary of her trip to Shipley and Ireland in 1995 Part 2

Tuesday 3rd October 1995 (pages 11-13)

5.50am  Sitting in my hotel room, Isaac’s Hotel Frenchman/s Lane Dublin (£35 a night!!) and feeling much brighter after a good night’s sleep and a clearer mind.

Airport will send on my luggage (if they find it).  If I haven’t heard from them before shops open, will buy a set of clothes, knickers etc. and claim on insurance.

Took a bus from Airport to City Centre ($2.50).  Isaac’s Hotel is on block next to Busarus and opposite Keating’s pub.  Was costly but adjacent hostel was charging £28 for a shared room for 1 – figured extra £ was worth comfort and it was getting late and I was so tired and low.  Unpacked most of my carry on gear so backpack was lighter & headed off to find O’Connell St.  By then it was 5.30 and everything was closing.  Gave me a feel for the place again though and a sense of direction.  My boots and long skirt seem to be causing something of a stir around Dublin.  Last year it was leggings!!

Bought new batteries for Walkman (must have turned itself off during flight).  Had chips & coffee at Hungry Jacks (Excuse me!!….?)…. but it was cheap!!  £1.60.  Bought an Irish Times (found those damned “Frenchies” have dropped their second bomb!!  Found a money exchange who don’t charge commission.  Will change remaining $A100 to Sterling £’s ready for ferry trip to U.K.  Figure I’ll stay here tonight and do some of the Dublin “stuff” today.  UK tomorrow – stay Wed & Thursday nights.  Ferry back on Friday & bus to Ennis??  We’ll see how it goes.

Wednesday 4th October 1995 (pages 14-21)

4.25pm  Sitting in Beshoff’s O’Connell having just finished a lunch/dinner of “Beshoff’s Meal” (fresh cod, chips, coleslaw & coffee).  Am now on 2nd cup of coffee and about to light up a 4th smoke.  What a relief it is that smoking is accepted everywhere here.  Not just accepted but almost compulsory….  Thought it time to catch up with what’s been happening in my life.  Where to star?

Well, I’m relaxing and passing the time until 8pm when I need to report to the Busarus ready for my trip across the Irish sea to Leeds and the next step on my latest adventure.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring?….  Hoping I can get some sleep on the ferry and bus tonight because I’ll really be on the go tomorrow.  On arrival in Leeds plan to:

  •  check out 10 Meanwood St (the house Dad’s mother and father were living I when his birth was registered).
  • Check out the shops for Doc Martins for Kirrily & Chad (not much of a selection in Dublin this year …. certainly no green ones …. very few cherry & they’re only boots….)

Soon as this is done I’ll head for Shipley, book a room for the night, leave my backpack then hunt down Mossman St…. if it still exists ??  Will still have a little time on Friday – but have to be back in Leeds early evening for the return trip to Dublin.  Then straight on a bus to Ennis, pick up car, head for Corofin and a BIG sleep!!!  before Sean calls around.  Booked car hostel this morning and rang Sean to let him know of my arrival date.  He’ll be around “after dark” …. so hopefully I’ll have time for a “cat nap”…!!!

Feeling really weary now.  It’s been a tiring morning …. hence my decision to have a relaxing peaceful pm to get my energy levels up.

Rang Airport again this morning just before checkout time – They said they’d delivered my luggage 8.15pm Monday.  I checked the desk at about 9.30pm last night (Tuesday) and they hadn’t seen it.  Turned out the Airport had delivered it to HOSTEL instead of HOTEL.  They just hung it behind their door and didn’t think about it again.  Had the foresight to get receptionist to note on my bill that I didn’t receive it until this morning – to cover me with Insurance Co.  I sure expect to be re-imbursed for clothes I bought yesterday.  So, went back to room, re-packed, made my calls to Corofin/Ennis & Limerick (Sean) and booked out at 10.45am.

Went to Busarus.  Considered storing my backpack for the day.  Decided against it.  Having been dispossessed of it all this time was feeling distrustful of leaving it in someone else’s care again….  Result was I lumped the damned thing all over Dublin today.  By 3.30pm I’d really “had it”….  Although its relatively light & easy to carry, it gets heavy carrying it for hours on end.  Another lesson learnt here.

Checked out Sin Fein bookshop – Trinity College (bought some Celtic stuff … more weight to carry around).  Took lots of photos of Dublin.  Will finish off now (they’re starting to look at me rather weirdly here).  Will leave my backpack on for one final trek down to Busarus and stay put till bus leaves ….  Note – man’s conversation in Bureau of Exchange.

Thursday October 5th 1995 (pages 22 – 34)

7.30am  Well – here I am in Café at Bus Station (Leeds).  Arrived in at about 6.40pm – it was still pretty dark, just beginning to get light.  They had a guy on duty near women’s toilets which I was glad about with it being so deserted and all …. My next little challenge – How to get to Shipley??  Saw a sign to Shipley as we were just coming out of Bradford.  National Express timetables here had no mention of Shipley so I’m guessing it may be a local bus.  To keep myself amused (and as a souvenir for Dad) I bought a  Yorkshire Times.  Then a guy in charge of station turned up.  I’d seen a sign pointing to Tourist Information and asked him how far down it was .. “big white building at end turn right” in a strong Yorkshire accent “at 9” is what I think he said next but he was so brusque I didn’t want to persist.  Sat shivering in Sharp wind for q while then noticed that the young woman who’d been sitting outside having a smoke when I arrived had opened Café.  Nice hot coffee is good.  I enquired how I might get to Shipley.  She wasn’t really sure but thought a local bus left from across road.  Another likely confirmation to my detective work.  Don’t really want to wait round here till 9 o’clock so may “steel” myself to go ask the gruff “Busman” – Maybe he has a heart of gold beneath that ?? exterior?  Must mention I feel quite at home in this part of the world with so many sharing my hacking “smokers” cough.  Quite a cacophony in early hours of morning on bus form Anglesey (Wales) …

Oh!! 2 more people have turned up for refreshments in the “deserted café”… We can of course only have drinks … “too early for food yet …”.  We weary travellers are grateful.

Oh yes!  Changed my plans since yesterday and am sure they’ll change again before day is out …

I’m not going to hang around Leeds to check out shopping …. Will get straight to my planned destination (Shipley) … With so little time before bus takes me back I need to focus on my mission.  Any time left over can be spent on other activities.

Wow!! Quite a crowd in here now …  2 more customers have arrived for drinks & chocolate bars …

The trip from Dublin was pleasant & largely uneventful.  Smooth trip across Irish Seas.  Gale force winds that have been whipping the coast for past few weeks died down.  Had a Guinness, pack of Taylor’s potato chips, bought 2 coasters & tried again to change my Australian $ to Sterling £.  Got the same story as form the girl in exchange in O’Connell St, Dublin …. “better to do it on the ship… I’ll have to change it to Irish £ first & you’ll “miss out twice”.  This time the story was to change it in Leeds for same reason.  Thought about it for a while then went back with a £20 Irish note – didn’t want to arrive in UK with no money before banks opened & looking for an Exchange Bureau.  Just as well I followed my instincts.  I know they were trying to be helpful….

So, ferry trip was calm.  Irish ferries are magnificent!!!  Passenger section like a 1st class hotel “Oisin” Lounge … “O’Reilly’s” pub …. “?” A La Carte restaurant.  I had a most pleasant doze and woke up just as the ferry was docking.  (4hr trip) passed quickly when you “snooze” much of it away.  Only unpleasant experience was when we dis-embarked in Wales.  Some crazy guy picked a fight… There’d evidently been some “carry-on” on way over about a girl.  Ferry officials restrained him pretty quickly & called Town Police.  All this at about 1.15am whilst we were waiting to collect our luggage…. Had a big sleep on bus and awoke as we arrived in Liverpool.  What I could see of countryside from Manchester to Leeds was fascinating.  Undulating hills pretty well all the way and appeared to be heavily populated.  Bit hard to tell for sure though, in the dark.

Just paused to get another coffee & spied some freshly made sandwiches!!! Yum!!! – corned beef “home cooked” proper corned beef & just touching the right spot (thoughts of Mum” – should help me get rid of this thick head & faint headache probably due as much to lack of food as lack of sleep.

It’s now 8am and the city of Leeds is on the move out there right now… Doesn’t seem so scary now in broad daylight.  Maybe the food will give me re-newed energy & I will walk down to Tourist Office.  I have a sense that this is what I should be doing…. maybe I’ll pick up some other relevant info ??  Who knows ??…

Before I stop this little writing session, must just record the little “to do” with money.  When paying for sandwiches & coffee handed over a £5 knowing may need change for bus (I had just spent time putting away Irish Money & getting out English!!).  She looked at torn note consulted with Bus Drivers here having a meal break, then came back and said “I’m sorry I can’t accept this”.  Me thinking its ‘cos it was badly torn handed over a smooth new £10 and she said she couldn’t accept this either.  Long & short of it was, I had carefully folded away my £15 English & was trying to use £15 Irish.  Not surprising …. I’m juggling 4 currencies at the moment:-

  1. Australian
  2. Irish
  3. English
  4. Hong Kong

Before I get home I will have added Italian to this.  Not bad for a 2 week holiday …

Time to relax before taking off on my next little “sortie”.

 

 

Mum’s Diary of her trip to Shipley and Ireland, October 1995 Part 1

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This is a treasure that I found not long after Mum passed away. It was a diary she wrote when she took a cheap, whirlwind trip to Shipley, Yorkshire UK to try to find where her Dad, Harry Scarborough Crout lived before he came to Australia at the age of 16. As this was well before the Internet, and Mum’s blogging, this is almost a travel blog that I decided that I needed to be added to her electronic blog.  This will immortalise her words for everyone to share.  The first thing that struck me in the aftermath of her death from lung cancer was how this diary captured her life as a smoker.  How much her life revolved around it and how much she loved it until she was forced to give up five years or so before she died.  Thank goodness she did and we got at least those extra five years.  The second thing that struck me was how much finding out about her history meant to her and how completely capable and independent she was before she suffered her breakdwn in approximately 1997.  What fantastic timing for her to do this when she would be so emotionally and physically affected in the following years.

These words are those of my Mum’s, writte in pencil, just brought to life by me almost a year after she departed this life.  [Another year has passed now, and I’ve found this draft post, and thought I would post this as part 1 and then continue the story on and incorporate the folder that my Mum made when she got to Shipley for Grandad]

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Page 1 is a shopping list

Hong Kong – Modem, phone, Nutrix (Kirrily)

Ireland – Fridge magnet, Jenny shoes, Chad shoes, Kirrily Shoes (Cherry Docs), Dictionaries – Gaelic & Eng, Childs gaelic b/book, Cartoon (gaelic), Jacket? – Donegal, Hair Clasp Kirrily, Earrngs (me), Bodran, Tapes

The following two pages are a proposed itinerary

Deart Adelaide 1/10 – Dublin – Leeds – Shipley – Leeds – Ennis – Corofin – Galway – Ennis – Dublin – Rome – Adelaide – 15/10

Sunday 1st October 1995 (pages 3-7)

9.40am – Sitting on tarmac at Sydney waiting to take off.  Flight was delayed in boarding and now there’s a bit of a back-up.  Shouldn’t be too long (we were told).  Feeling sleepy, but pretty happy.  Being at airport at 4.20am and having a restless night (sleeping on Cullen’s futon) has added to my normal lethargy at end of school terml.

9.45am – We’re off! Adelaide to Sydney flight was comfortable/window seat/breakfast (nearly dozed off) was feeling a little disgruntled about my seating for Sydey – Hong Kong flight – 76C!!  Right at back of plane.  Glad I didn’t ask for a re-allocation in Sydney and decided to “go with” just what the Universe dished out.  Turns out it is at very back of plane (Qantas 747) but is one of 4 seats that are doubles only (rather than 3) AND the best part is I’ll be able to stretch across two seats (all being well) in my little corner of the plane and get some sleep – after lunch that is.  Non smoking flight is a pain.  I’ll try not to think about it and get some sleep instead.

8.40pm Hong Kong time – Well here I am sitting in “Windows on the World” restaurant in Hong Kong airport.  What a relief!!  Had plate of fries, coke, coffee and am enoying a smoke in the smoking section!! of restaurant.  Most humane!!  The first thing I did on arrival at Hong Kong was to have two smokes – after a smoke free flight from Adelaide to Sydney to Hong Kong!! Took a photo of the “smoking area” sign to remember the occasion.  Had to put my watch back 1 1/2 hours on arrival cos it was getting too confusing and didn’t want to miss my flight to Rome.  So I’ve been here in Hong Kong 3 1/2 hours now (5 hour stop over).  First 2 hours were a pain saved only by endless smoking.  Had to wait in hot humid stuffy arrivals area until Alitalia Transit desk opened at 7 o’clock.  Ended up being 7.20 but my patience was rewarded by getting a smoking seat on the 13 hour trip to Rome.  Although I’ll likely sleep much of the time.  Managed about 4-5 hours sleep Sydney to Hong Kong, so that was pretty jolly good.  Had to use an Australian $50 note to buy my tucker and got change in Hong Kong dollars.  Think I’ll go and buy another carton of smokes with some of it.  Will help reduce my expenses in Ireland.  From memory they’re pretty dear there??  Well flight is due to board in 30 mins (9.20pm).  So need to finish this smoke and get myself into gear.

Monday 2nd Oct 1995 (pages 8-10)

2.15pm Dublin Airport – Well here I sit in restaurant having cappucino, smokes and about to chuck down some vitamin tablets after what is (at last count) 38 hour travelling.  Don’t quite know whether to laugh or cry.  Cry I think it’ll be, but I can’t afford the luxury right now.  Have to get my head together, energy levels up and plan my next course of action.

Was feeling OK (if a little tired) until I found out that my luggage didn’t arrive with me.  Well, that’s a first!!  Also having some real bad stomach cramps and need to go to toilet.  Woe is me.  Where is my Tour Organiser??  OK the story they told me here at Dublin that they’re not surpirsed my luggage didn’t mak it and they’re amazed I did.  Too many tansfers to check it safely all the way through.  Three is the maximum.  Figured it probably stayed at Rome while I moved on.  This would not surprise me.  Rome was a nightmare and although I was there 4 hours I almost missed my flight due to the fat that when we arrive about 4am there was no staff.  Those that were there were exceedingly rude, arrogant and unhelpful.  Must pause and find a toilet!!!!!

(the nightmare of Rome continued on Page 57)

The ideas are flowing, now I need the priorities

Ok, so now I get it Mum.  When you have all of these ideas of what you want to write about and share with anyone who is following your stories and thought patterns, but you have trouble organising yourself to prioritise your time.

Mum used to talk about how she felt like the spirits of her Ancestors were “bothering” her, jostling to the front of the queue when they got impatient for their story to be told.  I haven’t (yet) felt that as such, I’m sure as I turn more in to my mother {chuckle} this will happen.  For now though, I feel like I’m having ideas and starting a few different things, so that now I’ve got multiple stories on the go and I’m not sure which one to focus on first.

I have this wonderful story that is the story of the Canadian Cousins – that is a big story and will take time and I have decided that I am going to follow Mandy’s suggestion and write a book – Mum’s book.  Mum always said she was going to write a book and she just didn’t know what it was going to be about.  So, I’ve decided I’m going to write Mum’s book for her.  It will be the story of discovering her Canadian Cousins existed and then how she sought them out, created a strong relationship with them and began to uncover the mystery of their family.  I will pull extracts from that to share here, on Mum’s blog, but for the whole uncut version of the story, you will need to buy the book 🙂  The plan is not to become a millionaire, but perhaps to raise enough funds to keep Mum’s rellies “in the ground” by paying the lease fees on their graves as they become due.  That seems pretty fair.

I also have another book that needs to be published – Grandad’s book, which was written by my Grandad in the late 70’s, early 80’s that chronicles the first 4 years of his time in Australia, when he was 16-19 years old.  He wrote it on a typewriter and the font is quite faint and hasn’t scanned all that well.  Although my Husband assures me that there is technology that will assist the transfer of it to a Word document, I’m a bit slow at working that kind of thing out, and I’m kind of enjoying typing it out – reading it as I go.  Not sure how I’ll go about publishing that one, I guess that will be the learning then to take on board to publishing the bigger one.

Then there is Mum’s trip to Shipley to discover where Grandad came from in 1995.  She has talked about it a few times in her blogs.  As Grandad’s health (and in particular memory) was fading in the 1990’s he was getting increasingly distressed about the fact that no-one could find where he came from – 42 Mossman Street, off Crag Road, Windhill, Shipley, United Kingdom.

So, Mum made it her mission to discover where Grandad came from, which she did.  Being the storyteller she was, she wrote a diary on her trip, which I took with me when I went to the UK last year.  I began writing out her diary then.  It is a fantastic story of her discovering her Father’s homeland.  Then when she got back, she put together a folder of photographs and notes and she gave it to Grandad, who was overjoyed to know that she had found his homeland and could see photos of how it looked now – his memories of his childhood came flooding back and Mum felt as though she had calmed his soul, just before the dementia took hold of him.  The saddest part was that years later Nana had told Mum that she should take the folder back as Grandad was past the point of it being useful for him and she knew how precious it was.  Mum never got it back and thought for years after Nana had died that it had gone missing when Nana’s treasures were sifted through.  This was very traumatic for Mum and she thought that someone in the family had taken it and may not have known the true value of it.

When I was cleaning Mum’s house out after she died, I found Grandad’s book – which I had never seen before and I found Mum’s precious folder she made for Grandad.  It was in with Nana’s keepsakes, and had been kept safe after all.  I am sad that Mum never knew that, but I think she would be happy for me to share the story of her trip on her blog.

So, after writing out my to do list here, I think I’ve worked out that what I need to focus on first is the Shipley trip in 1995.  I will put a series of posts together of the trip from a combination of the diary and the folder.

Yep, that’s it.  Ok, maybe I’ll see if I can make a start…. How great for me to have a place to come to clear my head about which direction I should take….

By the way, the other job I got finished this week was the final proof of the words on Mum’s headstone.  The stone should be delivered in mid October, so I imagine the headstone should be finished by the end of October, and I am pleased to say that the Canadian Cousins made it in to my life in time for me to immortalise their link with Mum in stone – Mum would be thrilled with this – I just know it (and I’m pretty sure that a couple of the Canadian Cousins will be pretty chuffed too).

The Canadian Cousin story continues to grow and unfold – just yesterday June told me that she found Grandad’s sister’s grandson (so the same generation as me – our grandparents being blood siblings) and I have sent him a message on FB.  He’ll probably think I’m some nutjob (which I’m sure many people thought about Mum when she contacted them out of the blue and told them she was their cousin) but maybe not.  We’ll just have to see.  Like June said “see, us coming together is working, I just needed a bit of a push because I would never have done it on my own”.  Yes June, it is coming together and is making the story I have to write bigger all the time!

As June says often in her emails TTFN (ta ta for now).

Kirrily

 

 

 

 

The best story I have ever read

I am in the middle of the best story I have ever read.

There is nothing I love more than getting completely engrossed in a story, so that even when I’m not reading it, I am thinking about it and wondering what will happen next.  This doesn’t often happen to me, it has to be the right mix to really pull me in, otherwise I get bored, put the book down and then never finish it.  No chance with this one.

It is a story full of intrigue – mystery, love, family, war, discovery, understanding, reconciliation, honesty, loyalty, respect and loss.

It is the story of two cousins, with the same Grandfather, but different Grandmothers, on opposite sides of the globe, finding one another and then working as a team to piece their shared history together.  A history that is more unbelievable than any fiction they have ever read and is far better, as it is the truth – their truth.

They were both the historians of their families, with a trunk full of photos, certificates and memorabilia to share.  The communication was via email, daily in the beginning, and most days with multiple emails.  Most emails contained multiple attachments and were received by the other always with great appreciation of the time taken to compile and share.  Their shared love of discovering the story spurred each other on to keep scanning and sending anything they could find that was relevant, to help map out the story, as well as bring the people alive.

This story continued over two and a half years as they both became completely obsessed with ensuring that this story was documented accurately and with compassion and understanding.

Then tragically, their story came to an end as one of them died, very suddenly.  That person was my Mum and the other person was June Kendall.  Their story started in June 2011, and with June’s permission I have begun reading the emails between the two of them.  In three days, I have read more than 130 emails and looked at every attachment.  I am so sorry to know that I only have about another 50 or so to go until this part of the story ends.

The wonderful part is that it is all there, documented for me to read and then to go back over, look at what Mum has pieced together and ordered so far, fill in some missing blanks and then share the story, here, on Mum’s blog that she started the year before they first met.

Perhaps that will awaken the passion to finish the discovery that I believe died in June when she lost my Mum.  She said that I would understand how much she missed my Mum when I read their emails, and she was right.  I now know just how important they were to each other, and how tragic it was that they only had the three years together before Mum died and they never got to meet each other, or even hear each other’s voice.

I don’t even need to ask June whether I would have her blessing to write the story here, as I know, from their emails that is what they both wanted – for the story to be told honestly and compassionately and be there for the world, but in particular the descendants to know.

There may just be other descendants, like us, who want to understand how there came to be two families, joined by the same man on two separate continents, who never knew the other branch existed.  There may be even other people completely unrelated that will find the story fascinating.

As well as finishing reading the story in the final 50 emails, I need to work out exactly how I want to go about telling it….  So, if you would like to join me on the journey, watch this space ….

 

An orange can make the world a better place

Today, as I sit and eat an orange and juice runs down my arms and gets all over my face and I get orange bits between my teeth, my world is just that bit brighter.

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You see, this is no ordinary orange. This is a very special orange – it represents something that I thought was a missed opportunity.

My Mum had an orange tree. It was her pride and joy and every year she delighted in eating the fruit, but more than that, she loved to share the fruit with her loved ones. I have vivid memories of eating oranges at her dining room table while she sat and watched, and smiled. I know as she lovingly watered it, she thought of the fruit that would come and the happiness it would bring.

When Mum died in July 2014, the oranges were on her tree as they were every year. I had not had an orange from her tree that year, she had been too ill and we had been in the whirlwind of her rapid decline in health and sudden death. Then there was the funeral to plan and the day of the funeral to get through.

My brother Cullen had the forethought to pick a basket of oranges from her tree and take them to her funeral and asked her friends and family that were present, to take an orange and to enjoy it and think of Mum.

I thought it was a wonderful idea and I took an orange, but I could not bring myself to eat it. It went rotten in my fruit bowl and it matched the gloom that descended upon me.

Last year my brothers and I were still in the throes of sorting Mum’s house out and getting it ready for sale and I went on my overseas trip following my ancestry, thanks to Mum.

The oranges didn’t really enter my thoughts too much, but as I think about it now, the fact that the tree was not cared for after Mum died, meant that it got diseased and didn’t bear fruit last year.  Cullen gave it a big prune and laid the slate for it to fruit this year. Same with the peach tree.

Then as fate may have it, I decided to buy my brothers out of Mum’s house and to keep it as an investment property so that I could keep the house that meant so much to me, in my life. It was a house full of memories – I had moved there with Mum when I was 17 and turned into an adult there (even having a cracking 18th birthday party there and then a rerun three weeks later). My Mum had sold the house to my Nana and Grandad in their ailing years and moved next door and then bought it back when they moved into nursing homes. So not only was it full of memories of my Mum, also of my grandparents who died in 2007.  It was just too important to me and the thought of not knowing who was in it, or whether it was being looked after, was too much for me to cope with and so it became clear that I needed to keep it.  Which I did. I then prepared it to rent out, rather than for sale and was overjoyed with the final result.

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Now that I am another year down the track and a fair bit stronger, the thought of sitting down and enjoying Mum’s oranges is a thought that brings me  joy.  The fact that I kept the house, and found a wonderful tenant, means that now, every year, we are able to enjoy Mum’s oranges. So, this is the first one of Mum’s oranges I have eaten since before she even got sick. This is something I thought I gave up the opportunity to do when I didn’t eat the one I took from her funeral. That makes me very happy.

I have now finished it – devoured it in minutes and it was quite possibly the sweetest fruit I have ever eaten in my life. I thought of Mum with every bite and felt her watching and smiling and saying “that’s my Girl”.

Love you Mum and thank you for all the years of looking after the orange tree so that we can enjoy the fruit for years to come. The decision to keep Mum’s house was a great one, for even more reasons than I first thought.

I know she lead me to make the decision to keep it, and I know that she had a hand in Ruth being the tenant. There are just too many co-incidences for her not to have.

I am grateful that she taught me how to trust my instinct and the Universe.

It’s a day

Today is the 6th of July, 2016. Two years ago my Mum, Catherine, the owner and creator of this blog was taken from us. Almost a year has passed since my last blog when we were in the UK. An amazing, special time.

I have hardly even visited the blog in this last year.

I have been busy finding my way in my new life, without my Mum. I navigated my way through losing a friend who had a 12 year battle with melanoma in April 2015. Then I stumbled my way through losing my oldest and dearest friend, Stacey, who had a five year battle with breast cancer in September 2015. I managed to get through both of them without Mum. Amazing what you can do, when you have no choice.

I’m doing ok, my son is now 11, I was able to move him to a school which is a much more positive place for him to be. I’m sure that would have been handled much better if Mum was here, but we got through it.  I have finally managed to get him keen on reading. The library is now a favourite place for him to go and I am delighted to see that he has discovered a series which he loves and is spending every spare moment buried in it. I know Mum would be clapping her hands with joy and sharing her love of books with him.

I have become a much easier person to live with than I was when I first lost Mum. Grief was very hard and I was so unhappy and stressed and emotional. Thank God I have an amazing husband who with the assistance of my wonderful grief councillor gave me the space and understanding to find my way.

Today I knew was going to be hard. I was prepared for it, which I’ve decided I need to be more often. I need to plan to give myself space to grieve, and then it’s likely I’ll actually cope with the day better than I expect. I spent a few wonderful hours with my Big Brother last night. In anticipation of having a hard time today and wanting to connect with him – the closest link I have to my Mum. He flew to Singapore for work today, so seeng him today wasn’t possible, but we managed to squeeze in dinner and drinks  last night.

I was talking with him about why I find anniversaries, birthdays, Mothers Days and other special dates so hard. Mothers Day this year was particularly hard. I had told myself and everyone around me I was fine and then I woke up and I was in a big, dark hole. Horrid. I wasn’t ready, it snuck up on me and it sucked. Big Time. I realised that those times are the days that I really stop and think about Mum and how much things are different now. How different I am now, and that makes me really sad.  I now feel like I don’t have somewhere else to go when things get really tough. I would always go to Mum. She was always there with a warm hug, soothing words, a cup of coffee and would help me put a plan together and gather the strength I needed to re-enter the real world. No longer do I have that safe haven, that soft place to fall and gather myself and my strength.

Of course I still have people to go to – my Husband, my Son, my friends and I have my Big Brother. Thank God for my Big Brother. I honestly don’t know what I would have done over these two years without him.  He provides a different safe haven to that which Mum gave me, but I love the fact that Cullen is so much like Mum in different ways to me. Our relationship is different to that which I had with Mum, and different to how our relationship was before Mum died. Back then we really didn’t understand each other, and now we share the fact that we are navigating our way through without Mum and realising that has had a profound effect on us. I feel like he has taken  over from Mum in being able to know when things aren’t right with me and he picks up the phone just to chat. Sometimes I don’t even realise what is coming – the tidal wave of grief, before he calls. I am so grateful for him, and I know he is of me.  When we left each other last night, his parting words about today were “It’s a day”.  He meant it in the way of today being a big day – hence the title of the post.

So this morning I was exhausted – I slept all morning and then felt like I was in a numb dazed state. I decided I needed to achieve something meaningful from the day, so I took myself off to Nalty Memorisls and organised Mum’s headstone. I’ve been meaning to for months, actually more than a year, but the time hasn’t been right. Today, everything fell in to place, and the deposit has been paid, the shape and design of the headstone set, and all I need to do is provide the text – that’s the easy part. I’m really pleased. It,s going to be amazing and then every time I visit the cemetery (which I don’t do all that often) I will be so proud of the headstone and the statement it makes about Mum and who she was, and what she meant to us.

The other thing I wanted to do was write a blog post, so this is my second accomplishment of the day.

Tomorrow I will wake up and it will be over two years since my Mum died. I’ll be in to the next phase. For now I’m happy to have quietly seen the day through, and ticked a couple of boxes.

We are headed off for a week in sunny Cairns on Saturday to spend with my Dad, which should be a nice getaway. I look forward to feeling warm. It’s been so bloody cold lately.

Then I will prepare to mark the one year anniversary of Stacey’s death in September and will be very pleased to post photos of Mum’s headstone here, when it’s complete.

I hope all of you here reading this today still remember my Mum often and with love. You all meant so much to her.

Until next time,

Kirrily

Shipley, Yorkshire and finding Marie’s grave

The last 24 hours has been amazing, and I’m not sure where to start, so I’ll just start writing and hope it takes shape.  I have been in Shipley, Yorkshire, United Kingdom.  This is the place that I have heard so much about and is where our English Heritage came from.  Shipley is where my Grandad – my Mum’s Dad, Harry Scarborough Crout lived with his “Mam” until in 1928, at the ripe old age of 16, he decided to travel all the way to the other side of the world to make his fortune and bring it back to his “Mam”.

Unfortunatelly (or fortunately for us) things didn’t go according to plan.  Three years after he left, in 1931 his Mum died and so he felt there was no reason for him to return and he stayed in Adelaide.  He married, lost his first wife, in tragic circumstances shortly after losing their only child durng childbirth and then he remarried her sister (my Nana).  They went on to have four children, my Mum being the third, and only girl and they had 12 children (11 who survived) and from them there have been another 11 children born.  So, as a result of my Graddad taking off across the other side of the world as a child, there have been 27 children born in Australia.  All living happy, healthy and full lives.

Mum visited Shipley in October 1995 to try to find and photograph for Grandad his homeland to bring him peace in his ailing years.  She succeeded, what a success her trip was, and she lovingly put a folder of photos and maps together that Grandad would pour over as his memories were failing and he was falling in to dementia.  What I only found out yesterday when I was reading her post on this blog about Yorkshiire, was that she thought this book had disappeared and was sad about that.  This very book I had found in Nana’s things when I was cleaning out Mum’s house a few months ago.  Oh, how I wish I could tell her and she could have had time to look back through the book, relive the memories and know her gift was safe for us future generations to enjoy.

I knew I needed to find Crag Rd, Windhill, Shipley, which in the current era of Sat Nav maps on our iphones, was a pretty easy task.  I realised this was much easier for me, driving a hire car, armed with a Sat Nav and all the knowledge Mum’s renaissance trip in 1995 had provided.  Mum had walked the very steep hills on foot carrying maps and it was only due to the help from some locals that she was able to find the information she had travelled all that way for.

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I sat on the side of Crag Road, and read Mum’s Yorkshire blog and from that post I was able to identify Grandad’s primary school and the church that he attended Sunday School as well as the library that he loved.  What was sad to find is that his much loved library, a beautiful building, is now unused and has fallen in to disrepair, with boarded up windows.  I guess this is a sign of the times.  Grandad told Mum stories of walking up Crag Road with armfuls of books and sometimes it was so windy he would be surprised that he wouldn’t get blown over.  To see these buildings and walk these very streets was pretty amazing, to say the least.

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I knew from Mum’s trip in 1995 that a redevelopment that had occurred in the 60’s had demolished the street that Grandad lived on, but I saw lots of examples of the “back to backs” that Grandad lived in.

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What I didn’t realise until tonight when I was looking at a map Mum had of the area before the redevelopment (which I had brought on our trip but not taken to Windhill) was that Grandad’s road was just behind the church.  I had gone to the church and my instinct had taken me around the back to a t junction, which I turned left at and then drove that road, which was the one that Mossman Road (Grandad’s street) ran off of.  Not at all surprising, really.

However, the best and most important part of my trip to Shipley was yet to come.  Mum’s 1995 trip resulted in contact with the Windhill Memories group who were able to locate where Marie Crout (nee Ogilvie), Mum’s Grandmother was buried – Nab Wood Cemetary.  Mum was told she had been buried in a paupers grave and knew the cemetary was beatiful and well maintained, and in a letter I discovered recently that she wrote in 1996 but never sent (because it was too dribbly) her words were;-

“To have the location of my grandmother’s grave is much more than I ever believed possible.  Knowing that I now can actually visit this special place so far from my home to pay my respects quietens the soul.  To know that Marie’s final resting place is so beautiful and well mantained is a gift beyond description.  How can I thank you?  It warms my heart so much, Milton, to know that someone I have never even met has bothered to take the time to research a matter that may seem small to some, but is so important to others.  Your Memories Group is certainly an inspiration.”

I knew the name of the cemetary and even the grave number from Mum’s ancestry bible and so with my trusty Sat Nav and my hire car I took off and again, and easily located the cemetary.  Mum was right, it was beautiiful and very well maintained.

I knew that actually locating the grave would most likely prove more diffiult.  It turned out that there was no map to tell me where section T even was, let alone which graves were which.  This, my first sortie had located the cemetary, but it was Sunday evening and there was no-one around to assist in helping me find the grave’s location, so I just explored and looked out for the areas from around the early 1930’s.  I was drawn to one area in particular.  I took some photots.

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I went back to our room, happy that I had visited the cemetary and knowing what I needed to do tomorrow to hopefully locate the grave.  The other thing I wanted to do was get information about how I could go about getting a headstone or some other memorial erected, as this is what I know Mum has wanted to do since she had located the cemetary that Marie was buried in.  She never was able to do it.

So, this morning, I took off again for the cemetary.  The rememerance book room was open, so I went in there and could see that people had put rememberance passages in for loved ones for all kinds of years.  So, I knew this was a possibiity for me to do for Marie.  No-one else was around, so I called the office that manages the cemetary, and the man said there should be someone there who could help, and he would all them and tell them to come out and assist. A few minutes later, I was releived to see a man come out and he showed me where area T was.  I was so close with my photo above, just a bit further to the right was area T – again, not all that surprising.  Now, if I could just locate the general area of grave 203.  The man showed me that some of the headstones have the grave number on them, and I thought he would leave me to trying to locate the general area (knowing there was no head stone).  However, he helped me look.  We looked like we were getting closer and then numbers started jumping all over the place and not making a lot of sense.  I was starting to think this was as close as I would get, and I was telling him that I was happy just to know I was in the general area.  I had found 206, so knew I was close, then he yells out – “its here”.  I go down the other end of the section, the row in front of the row with grave 206 and there in front of me is a marker that reads “In Rememberance” with lots of flowers and other momentos.  You see, in all of this investigation, I discovered a Paupers Grave is a public grave, is not owned by anyone and there are multiple people buried in it.  So, no option of a headstone for any of the people buried in a public grave.  There is a Garden of Rememberance however, so I can follow up on having a plaque erectd on my return to Australia.  For now, I was overwhelmed.  Here I was in front of Marie’s Grave.  I cried tears of joy for finding it and tears of sadness for not being able to share it with Mum.  I talked to Marie – I told her that I was thankful that she had allowe her son to travel to Australia.  I told her that we know her story now, thanks to my Mum.  I told her that she would have loved my Mum – a stong, independant, fiesty woman.  I paid my respects in the way that Mum had dreamt of doing.  I did it all becaus of and for Mum.  I then talked to Mum and told her I hoped she knew I was here and that she was as happy as I was that I had found Marie’s grave.  I’m sure she was, but it’s not the same as being able to tell her and hear her response.

I took photos and I left some of Mum’s hair.  The other times that I have left Mum’s hair, it has been hard to get strands out of the rubber band that it is tied up with.  This time it pulled out easily, like something was saying that this is so right, lots of Mum’s hair needs to be left here.

In the last photo if you look closely in the purple flowers, you can see the strands of Mum’s hair.

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Mission Accomplished and I am so grateful.