Posted by: glenswatman | December 2, 2013

201321-30 Our very own “Surprise Surprise”

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THURSDAY 21 NOVEMBER – Today we have our electric meter replaced; apparently they have to be done every 10 – 15 years. I ask the engineer if he is putting in one of the new “smart meters” and he says no they will be put in next year. Jobs for the boys I guess in making them do each job twice rather than waiting and doing it all next year. We’re both full of cold so hunker down for the day watching loads of catch up TV.
KEIGHLEY

FRIDAY 22 NOVEMBER – Dr Swagger calls me to ask how my gall bladder appointment went. She really can’t understand why Airedale don’t deal with spleens but will make enquiries to get me a consultation at Leeds. We drive Keith & Sandra to Leeds Bradford airport for their flight to Tenerife. One of my dreams has always been to turn up at a major airport with just luggage and book a flight depending which departure takes my fancy. I’m not disappointed today as I look longingly at the departures board and realise the only flights are going to Europe (all places we have visited) and not to anywhere exciting further afield! We call in to Yeadon White Swan for lunch where we’ve been told they have a really good chef. Steve’s salmon and my fish and chips are nice but nothing out of the ordinary. In fairness neither of us can really taste food due to our colds. In the evening I receive a really exciting E-mail about a long lost cousin. Back in the 1940’s my Auntie Joan had to leave her son Jon with his Dad Arthur in order to pursue a romance with the man who was to become my Uncle Cyril. Auntie Joan married Cyril and gave birth to my cousin Christine before moving to Canada. Since 1982, when Auntie Joan lived near us, I have been following up her story as she really wanted to trace Jon. Finally after over 30 years and with a circuitous Google search I have made contacted and he has E-mailed me after receiving my letter. It feels like an episode of “Surprise Surprise” and quite emotional. I quickly let Christine know I have found her half brother and fire off a reply to Jon and copy in the rest of the family. It’s after 10pm when I get a reply from Jon’s wife Ren who says he is very very happy but extremely emotional. They want to meet us all and as they live only 1 ½ hours away from us in Yorkshire this should be easy to arrange. Jon had tried to trace Joan but with no surname and knowing she was in Canada he got nowhere. Ren explains that they lived in France for 20 years which would have made my previous searches difficult. I E-mail Chris to find out how she would feel about us meeting Jon before she does.
KEIGHLEY

SATURDAY 23 NOVEMBER – I’ve had restless night thinking about Jon. Frustratingly my Internet connection is poor but I finally manage to get a message from Chris telling me to go ahead with a meeting. I spend time composing a letter back to Jon & Ren and put the ball in their court in terms of meeting up. Mom phones to say Dad is having breathing problems and they are on the way to Airedale. Steve pops down the pub to watch football in the afternoon and pays the price with coughing fits on his return. Mom calls to say Dad is being kept in overnight. I have more contact from Jon’s wife Ren telling me how absolutely delighted Jon is and filling me in on brief bits of their history whilst I dribble info from our side. There would be just too much to tell in one hit.
KEIGHLEY

SUNDAY 24 NOVEMBER – I manage to get our Australian friends Bev & Norm on Skype. We chat about their trip next year and plan for them to stay with us in Norwich for about 10 days with the possibility of us doing a cruise on the fens so something to really look forward to. Jon calls and chats to Steve first then me; he is reluctant to wait until Saturday for our planned meeting so they will come over on Wednesday. It’s easy to tell from our brief conversation that we have a lot in common and will get on well. Ren sends me more E-mails as Jon has given her the go ahead to fill us in on his life. Interesting similarities include the fact that Ren and her first husband ran a sub-post office in Yorkshire and Jon had his bunion operated on earlier this year which confirms he is part of the family.
KEIGHLEY

MONDAY 25 NOVEMBER – Knowing about my quest to find Cousin Jon a couple of friends have suggested we see the movie Philomena and by sheer chance (or is it destiny) it is showing in Keighley this week. In spite of not having the requisite grey hair we manage to get in to the afternoon matinee. It’s the story of a young girl who was sent to a convent to have her baby then had the baby sold to Americans. 50 years later a journalist takes up her quest to find him. It has a few light hearted moments but is sadly based on a true story and many Mums and babies are still estranged due to the convent cover up. We get a message to say Dad is now home but not that much better. Lisa is staying over and combining her visit by re-arranging the lounge.
KEIGHLEY

TUESDAY 26 NOVEMBER – The post arrives with photos of Jon & Ren who look really friendly and happy in the photos of them taking on the campsite they ran in France. We get a call from St James confirming that Mr Lowes at Norwich is happy to take on Steve’s care now he has all the notes. At the tail end of our colds we manage to make it to Scrabble. Steve skilfully and I luckily win all 3 games and they threaten to ban Steve, good job we will be away next week. Call in to Mom & Dad’s. The lounge looks much better and there is a lot more floor space. Dad’s greatly improved and to us looks back to normal.
KEIGHLEY

WEDNESDAY 27 NOVEMBER – I’m up early feeling excited at the prospect of Jon & Ren’s visit so get busy baking to pass the time. They arrive mid morning and we begin our non-stop chatter. To me Jon looks quite a lot like Grandpa Varley and once I show him a picture he can see the resemblance. There seem to be more questions than answers about events at the time when Jon was left with his Dad and also about a mysterious phone call Jon received when he was 18 and I doubt we will ever know the truth. Fortunately Jon does not feel bitter about his circumstances and is simply delighted to now have family contact. I’ve already shared parts of our ancestry tree and update them with information from Jon and Ren’s families. I show him video clips of Auntie Joan, poor quality and brief but her character as a fun person certainly comes over. Throughout the day we learn that Jon was brought up in the hotel business and catering trade and went on to run restaurants and pubs. With Ren they had a restaurant in Garrucha Spain (an area we know quite well), then became campsite hosts for big companies like Eurocamp and Haven in Switzerland and France. Their final campsite was at Argeles sur Mer and they stayed in that area after retiring 5 years ago. Used to living in mobile homes and now having a caravan there are many similarities in our lives. They insisted on bringing over lunch and we feast on open sandwiches with ham, salmon and pate washed down nicely with a bottle of bubbly from Argeles and of course a toast. Jon has brought photos and newspaper clippings about their business venture and given the reviews on his restaurant food we hope he will be cooking some for us in the future. I’ve arranged a Skype video call with Jon’s sister Chris and it brings a tear to my eye to watch them seeing each other and chatting for the first time ever. It’s about 5.30pm when they tear themselves away with a plan for us to visit them in December. Claire arrives for her sleepover and we spend ages filling her in and then give Mum a ring.
KEIGHLEY

THURSDAY 28 NOVEMBER – Steve suspects the combination of outings to the cinema, Scrabble and then having visitors yesterday has made his cold worse so spends the morning in bed. I’ve had a night collating all the information learnt from Jon & Ren so am not surprised to hear they had an early night but were up at 4am chatting. Both stay in all day with me pottering around.
KEIGHLEY

FRIDAY 29 NOVEMBER – In Ilkley we visit Cam & Viv, Cam was having treatment for leukaemia at BRI when Steve was there and we’ve stayed in touch. They have just come back from their second cruise post treatment and are doing well getting their lives back to “normal”. Viv has prepared a lovely 3 course lunch and we leave as they head off to collect their grandchildren from school.
KEIGHLEY

SATURDAY 30 NOVEMBER – Steve manages to walk down and pick up the paper but pays the price with a coughing fit on return. It’s another sunny day so he wraps up warm and sits out for an hour. If all winters were like this in England we could almost be tempted to stay. Looking back on last year’s diary I know this isn’t the case as Steve was in hospital at this time and many days I had to scrape ice off the car to set out and on return.
KEIGHLEY

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