My “True Life” web project is connecting me to relatives I never knew I had.
I haven’t written any stories in True Life for many, many months now, but the project has attracted attention from people in different parts of the world, and some of them have contacted me to tell me they’ve read it. The most rewarding times for me have been when someone contacts me and tells me they’re a relative! This has happened a few times over the years. A few years ago, a gentleman from England named Brian Scanlon contacted me, saying that his grandmother was a cousin to my great aunt. Through his generous sharing of his research, I learned more about the family of my dear old Auntie Molly, a wise matriarchal figure who helped to raise my Dad and his siblings, and who was a strong influence on and a comfort to me when I was in my pre-teen years. More recently, a gent from England named Alfred told me that he was related to my maternal grandfather, whom I always called “Poppy”.
I grew up never knowing very much about Poppy’s upbringing or his early years, or even where he was born. When I was very young, around eight, sitting on Poppy’s knee, he told me that he came to Canada from England when he was about 12 years old. When I asked who he came over with, he fell silent and looked a bit sad. I learned from Alfred that Poppy was the product of his father’s first marriage, and that Alfred’s grandfather was a product of Poppy’s father’s second marriage. So, Alfred’s grandfather was a half-brother to mine.
Alfred’s research also showed me that my Poppy was in fact a “home child” – a kid who was basically shipped off to a foreign country (Canada, in this case) to provide labour to another family, and presumably a better life in another land. The folks back home in England knew that Poppy had gone to Canada and had became an RCMP officer, but they may not have known much more. I didn’t even know that my Poppy had a full sister, or that he had family back in England. Learning about his life, has helped to connect me more to my own.
True Life originally went live in 1998. It is my ongoing, online attempt to cobble together a complete, illustrated personal life story, documenting fuzzy memories from my birth, onwards. A collection of over 50 stories and anecdotes illustrated with photographs and original sketches, True Life is an evolving tribute to my lost family, past friends, and to the various challenges and people I’ve known over the years. It all begins not long after March of 1966…
To read True Life, go to http://ejohnlovebooks.com/true-life and click on one of the album on the left side, like “1966 – 1971″.