The Homeland

The Homeland

Minnie and LawrenceIt started in Northern Ireland, visiting family I had never met or seen before, but family my grandfather talked about. What he would say was one day I’ll go back to the home, back home to that land ;he actually never visited himself but it was home, even though he was born in Canada. He  always felt a strong connection from the stories his mother, who was born there, told him. So it was when Dian and I said we would like to go, it was suggested that we get in touch with these cousins and see what might come of it.

It was nerve racking at first, since before we arrived, we had only exchanged emails and photos to know who to look for when we got off the plane. We met many people in that first day, all of whom we were in a way related. Second and third cousins I knew that I must have out there somewhere but never having put a face or even a name to them. I enjoyed all of them, they were warm and welcoming, and even though they had no idea who my sister and I really were . They just knew that our last name was Ross and that our grandfather was James Bradshaw whose mother was Minnie Ross ,sister to , and so on and so on. They welcomed us into their homes and showed us their country. It was on the second day when we went to visit another relation, who would have been our grandfather’s first cousin, said to her son, “Bring over the box of photographs.” And she started to pull out old black and white photos of my grandfather and great aunt when they were young. It was with these in hand that, the joke came about that we had chosen the right Ross family after all. Here in our hands were photos I had never seen before nor would have never seen if I had not made this journey.

Auntie EdithThere were two photos of my great Auntie Edith, platinum blonde ,dressed to perfection with her fur stole over her shoulders, posing for the camera. Wearing the same black heels that I remember so well of her. Even at nerly90 those were the only shoes to touch her feet as she headed out. Trotting along, like a stem of grass in the wind, weaving in each direction but never actually falling. She would say, “All my life I have worn heels, and I am going to keep wearing them until they have to carry me out feet first.”

PapaThe other photo is of my grandfather, looking at the camera but a little less prepared for the photograph being taken. He stands in the garden a little out of the shot, on the back is written, “James Bradshaw, 19, 5 foot 10”  a funny thing to write- someone’s height on the back of a photo, but I am sure someone in the family wanted to know how much he had grown since last time they knew of him. My great- grandmother ,Minnie, stands next to her husband ,Lawrence Bradshaw. The grandfather I knew grew to look so very much like him.

My grandparents and aunt passed away 10 years ago, and I miss them very much, but this trip back to the homeland, as my grandfather would call it, has made them alive once more and I think how much they would have loved it.