I have told you about my real family....my adopted parents etc., but now I feel I'd like to talk about my birth family. Yes, I guess they perhaps are my real family but as I have met so few of them and only known them for a short while they are still comparative strangers compared to those I knew for so much of my life.
I knew from age 12 that I had been adopted but I did nothing about making enquiries until after the death of my adopted mother in 1985. I always felt she would be hurt should I undertake such a project while she was alive and it has been my understanding that she would have preferred that nobody should know about the adoption. For her sake or mine I have never been sure. Once she was gone I felt it was my prerogative to tell or not to tell. I also needed to know my ancestry not just out of curiosity but in case there was any medical history that could be of use to my family.
In the late 1980s I contacted Jigsaw (name is self-explanatory) for help to find out who my birth parents were and Glenys pointed me in the right direction and, after being suitably counselled as to what I may find, I received a copy of my original birth certificate showing my mother's name ...but no father's name.
I then proceeded to try and find out if this lady had perhaps married or even died young. Nothing came to light until I paid for a search to be made over a number of years by the BDM office only to find she had in fact married in 1946 when she was 36 years of age. To cut a long story short, after much searching I found that in the late1980s/early 1990s she (now a widow) was living in a pensioner flat about a mile from our home but was now (approx 1994) resident in a retirement village about 2 miles away from us. Small world!!
My birth mother's name was Evelyn Maud Anderson and she was born in Perth on 24th December, 1910. She lived with her parents and sisters and brothers in the family home in Townshend Road, Subiaco. I am told she worked for a store in Perth and was in charge of the restaurant in that store. She was said to be an excellent cook which is a talent I've unfortunately not inherited from her. I also know she was in the Royal Australian Air Force from June, 1943 until she was discharged in November, 1945 and that in 1946 she met and married John Lloyd Nicol. They did not have any children. Her husband died in 1987.
From what she told me about my father he was tall, dark and handsome and had a way with him. It would seem he certainly had a way with her and I was the result. I don't think she was completely blameless but her timing was possibly a bit out. He unfortunately, backed by his mother, denied all responsibility and although my mother obtained a maintenance order against him no payment was ever forthcoming. I feel my mother wanted to keep me or why apply for maintenance and yet she also told me that her father told her to 'have the baby, forget about it and get back home'. Sadly I was born just 9 days after my mother's 21st birthday so not a happy time for her.
There is some confusion about what exactly happened but as I've said I was adopted by two wonderful English people who at that time lived on a farm in the south of W.A. Strangely enough the adoption was not finalised until early 1933 although I had gone to them as a very young baby in early 1932. Perhaps I was fostered to begin with but as my adopted mum didn't talk a lot about it I am a little in the dark as to the true facts.
Evelyn Maud (I call her that these days to avoid confusiion) and I became quite good friends during out telephonic relationship but she would never meet me face to face. When Glenys visited her and asked her to meet me she refused after which Glenys told me I looked quite like my mother so perhaps she (E.M.) felt someone would se the likeness and put two and two together. Whatever the reason I had been taught to value other's feelings so did not force myself on her as some people thought I should have done.
A friend of mine used to visit a relation at the same retirement village and one day she was able to take a lovely photo of E.M. and I was so grateful to her for doing this. She apparently told E.M. that she wanted to use up her film so could she take a snap of her. The matron had been told of our relationship and she kindly also took a snap of my mother which she forwarded to me. Since then family members have given me photographs, some of her in her air force uniform.
I have letters and Christmas cards from her which I value highly and was much saddened when she told me mid-1996 that she had cancer but refused to have treatment. She sad "it is my body and my decision about what is to be done". Reading between the lines I felt she was quite unhappy where she was living and that death would perhaps be a happy release for her.
She rang me in the last week of August, 1996 and sounded quite distressed. I asked her once again if I could visit her but was told not to. I rang the matron and asked her to keep me posted and was most annoyed to find my mother's death notice in the paper and nobody had bothered to notify me. I had tried to ring Evelyn Maud on 30th August but her telephone was answered by who I now believe was her niece who told me that E.M. was quite ill. I of course could not say who I was and had to leave it at that. My birth mother died on 31 August and her funeral was held on 4 September, 1996 the same day that her first great-great-granddaughter was born. What a coincidence that was. I had told her she was to become a great-great-grandmother and felt she was quite pleased at the idea.
Do I have regrets that I never met had face to face? Of course I do but decided that it had been a big enough shock for her to be reminded of the child she had so many years before that to push her into meeting me would just not be the thing to do and could destroy the relationship we had. I have often hoped that her illness was not in any way caused by the stress that she may have felt when she was confronted with an event that she had probably put way into the back of her mind.
I do think of her quite often and relive some of the telephone chats we had. She had a strong voice and was quite a character. She had a dry sense of humour and often made me laugh at some of the things she said. She had promised to write a letter giving me more information and possibly the name of my father but I think death overtook her sooner than she expected so no letter was received by me. She did send me a beautiful large book of Australian poems and I often look at it and at her signature on the inside cover. Her sister-in-law gave me a slave bracelet that my mother had worn and it has been on my bed post for a number of years. Just a wee bit of closeness that we didn't have in real life. Rest in peace dear lady and thank you for giving me life. xxxx