Some of my British friends think it’s a little strange that we as a family celebrate Thanksgiving here in the UK but this has become a ritual in our lives for the last 11 years now and with our ever increasing busy lives it is a lovely opportunity to re-connect with our nearest and dearest, to sit, to chat, to laugh and to break bread together.
Thanksgiving Dinner 2019
For me it has deeper meaning though because my brother died over the thanksgiving period and I know it was a day that he too loved having spent the last 12 years to his life living in the San Francisco area.
I didn’t even know that I had a brother until I was 15 and I still remember the night when out of the blue my Mum sat me down and told me her story of how she had sailed from Southampton to Sydney as a £10 pom and enroute met a dashing Italian steward and as a result found herself landing in Australia pregnant with no family, no money etc and made the ultimately painful decision to give her baby boy up for adoption.
It’s hard to explain the emotions I felt that day, it’s a mixture of many many things but the over riding one was anger and confusion knowing that my entire life for first 15 years had been a lie. Every single day from the moment I had been born I had been lied to, I thought I was 1 of 2 children when I was in fact 1 of 3 and that as a teenager that was an incredibly hard thing to process and actually still is to this day. However like anything all knock backs in life mold you and that for me has made me obsessive about the truth, of knowing truth, of seeking truth and of being truth.
From that day in 1986 I vowed to find my brother and so began a 22 year search. There were two major challenges though, the first that we never knew his adopted name, the second that the internet was not to hit our lives until many many years later. I strongly believe that had we had internet much earlier then our story would have had a much happier ending.
It wasn’t until 2008 though that with the help of the internet and an Australian TV series called ‘find my family’ that ‘they‘ finally found the missing links which I had so long searched BUT but their path then led them to making the heartbreaking discovery that my brother was dead.
The night I received that phone call from the TV researchers in Sydney breaking that news to me is another night which I shall never forget, not only can I still hear every word that was spoken, I can still feel the shock, the pain and the grief which burned through every fibre of my being. Then the 5 hr drive two days later when I had to go and break the news to my Mum was quite literally the worst day of my life.
There began a journey though (well several journeys to be precise). Georgia was just 10 when we received this news and Cameron wasn’t to arrive in our lives until 3.5 yrs later. With Georgia by my side we were able to travel to San Francisco in 2010 to meet with some of Mark’s closest friends (his chosen family) whom we have subsequently come to consider members of our own family and then to Sydney in February 2011 where we got to meet the family who adopted and raised him. By a VERY strange twist of fate it was whilst staying in Marks childhood home with his adopted family, exactly 3 yrs to the day after being told Mark was dead, that I was to discover I was pregnant with Cameron (actually Cameron Mark as he was given my brothers name as his middle name). New life, a new baby boy and a new opportunity to allow joy and happiness back into my life.
This year Cameron and I have obviously been able to circumnavigate the globe and within that epic trip we spent quality time in both Sydney and San Francisco. At 7 years old I knew that Cameron was now old enough to understand his Uncle Marks journey, but I was to witness him ‘feel’ it too. This latter experience of visiting these cities was a different experience to the first, the emotions were not so raw and we made memories of our own rather than just trying to piece together Marks which I had done before. Nevertheless I feel incredibly blessed that I have been able to share these journeys and these experiences with both my children and that Mark has showed me his two home cities through the eyes of the niece and nephews that he never got to meet.
Cam in Sydney 2019
Just a few days ago Cameron said to me “I love our home Mummy, it’s always filled with love and joy” and he’s right it is. So this year I celebrated Thanksgiving with more gratitude in my heart than ever before, with my family and with some of my dearest friends whom I have known since childhood. They have all been on incredible journeys of their own and each inspire me with their strength of character and resilience.
When we join together on thanksgiving, we all silently remember those we have loved and lost, but must importantly we celebrate and we laugh – A LOT (mainly about inappropriate things which shouldn’t be laughed about!!)
I am thankful for my brothers invisible presence in my life which continues to inspire and motivate me. I am thankful for my amazing family and friends who make me smile and belly laugh every day. I am thankful for Mark’s family and friends who have taken us in to their homes and their hearts. I am thankful that I have a roof over my head and food on the table. I am thankful for the truth and I am thankful for the journey of life which continues to unfold and show me new wonders every day. I AM BLESSED.
This is just a short video in tribute to my brothers life from some of the photos that his friends have shared with me, and reflects his journey entwined with ours. I know that one day we will all be Dancing in the sky together ❤️…… Video HERE