This truly was a weekend to remember for several reasons.
1) I do not recall ever taking a road trip just me and my mom
2) It is not every day you crash a wedding
3) It certainly is not everyday that you meet relatives that just a year ago did not know existed.
Friday morning bright and early Mom and I headed out to Williams Lake - our mission - to meet the surviving siblings that mom has just discovered! What a better way to do that than to crash a family wedding! (Yes! we did well sort of..)
Let me back up just a little, last spring my mom was given her father's name for the first time. (She was 67 at the time!) I took the name plugged it into Google and within 15 minutes I had an obituary for a man I believed to be her 1/2 brother. There it stated that Dougie was one of 10 (add mom that would be 11). From there I posted questions at Ancestry.com as well as genealogy.com in hopes of finding some answers & to see if my assumptions were correct. I asked questions to anyone I knew who had any connections to Williams Lake and surrounding areas. Pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place.
A number of months later I received an email from Dougie's son, Mark, asking me how I fit into this picture - wanting to make sure I had received my information from Grandma. That email confirmed what I had pretty much known from the moment I first saw the obituary. My mom who had been raised as a single child now had a HUGE extended family. She is one of 11 - children by the same father - 6 of whom are still living, and Mark is my first cousin on my mom's side! (My FIRST first cousin!) Think about that for a minute. All my growing up years it had always been just my sister and me on my mom's side of the family - no cousins - nothing. Now as Mark says - there are way too many to count, he does not even know and he grew up with them. It has been quite a thing to wrap our heads around. Time lost can never be reclaimed, however we can move forward and make the best of it! That is what we were doing. . . .
Our adventure to Williams Lake was all about meeting as many of the extended family as we could. Seeing the area Grandpa lived, basically filling in some of the blanks for mom. What a better way to do that than crash the party - so that is what we did. Now I have to say that it was not a total crash in that Mark invited us, and the bride was aware that we were coming. The wedding was a very casual affair (smart cousins I have!) in the middle of the annual ball tournament that they organize. It was so fun! We were able to meet all but one of the surviving siblings, tons of cousins, husbands, children - there are so many names and faces our heads are swimming.
For me the highlight was to see mom interacting with her brother and 2 sisters. The happiness on her face and the acceptance that was there for her. They welcomed us with open arms - and are all wondering when we will be back. A huge blessing for my mom! Questions are beginning to be answered, healing - it is a good thing.
The totally amazing thing is how they clicked from the very beginning. Auntie Janet - the sister closest in age to mom - and mom are like clones - similar in mannerisms the sound of their laughs, they think alike. I found that connection amazing. When we first got into town we were to go to a "window" store - that is pretty much the information Mom had... not the full company name (that would have been too easy!) So we come to a "window" store that Mom thinks is right, but not sure, we walk in and I see this lady sitting in the office reading - I knew - this was my aunt! She did not say anything, had not looked at us, but just the way she was sitting there - when she moved it was like looking at my mom! Here are 2 grown women, that share the same blood line but have never met, only talked briefly on the phone - but are so much the same. Genetics are fascinating for sure. It was exciting to make the connection - to SEE the connection and to feel the connection and be totally accepted in the process! WOW!