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Rated: E · Short Story · Genealogy · #2323281
Boy meets girl with a difference. A true story.

There was nowhere quite like St. Catherine’s House. In those days it was THE starting place for family tree research. Every birth, death and marriage in England and Wales was recorded, back to 1837. Just one, big, high ceilinged, brightly lit room. Inclined to be stuffy in summer’s heat. A staff that ran the place with an iron hand. Hundreds of books, great heavy tomes stored on steel shelving. It was a noisy place as these ledgers were hauled out and dropped onto slope topped desks or stuffed back in place and a staff member calling. “One book at a time, one book at a time!”
I’d perhaps finished my research for the morning and was thinking about a sorely needed lunch; those books were hard work. I noticed a man in Salvation Army uniform and wondered to a neighbour what he was doing.
“Oh, they try and trace lost relatives mostly.” I was told.
A light lit in my brain. I’d never met my father. My parents’ marriage had been a disaster. My dad had fled the scene. Knowing my mother I could perhaps understand his action. I’d been farmed out with her parents and that had been that. Any attempt at tracing him had drawn a blank and he was just a name in the bottom branches of my tree.
I walked over and asked if there was any chance the Salvation Army could help find my dad. He said yes and took down what little I knew of the man. He took my address and that was it.
Soon enough I was on my way back to Canada with my other hard earned information about my antecedents. All to be neatly added to the big family tree displayed on my workshop wall. Would I hear from the Sally Ann? Just wait and hope.
My trans-Atlantic trips, chasing long gone relatives must have made little sense to any but a genealogist. They was only possible because of free passes from the airline I worked for. The only real cost was jet lag; I don’t fly well, especially eastbound.
Days, perhaps weeks slipped by, then a letter with British stamps on it. The news was bad and good. My father was dead, but his second wife had agreed to exchange letters with me.
I wrote to her and she wrote back and I learned that my dad and I had been in the Royal Air Force a generation apart and had both been aircraft mechanics. From her telling of those lost years it seemed he’d not been as bad as painted after all. Really the big surprise was that they’d had a daughter, born some five years after I’d arrived. I had a sister! A sister I’d known nothing of, for all those years. The coincidences kept coming, she lived and worked in Toronto, less than two hours flying to my west.
The next question was obvious. When could we meet? Mother and daughter exchanged messages. I waited and wondered. Then a yes, my sister would be happy to meet me. Obviously I was the one to make the journey and dates, flight number and time were arranged. That Friday the flight seemed to take forever as the DC9 appeared to crawl westward.
Arriving at Toronto I left the aircraft and followed the crowd. I think we both recognised each other. I walked over to the pretty stranger and said, “Hello sister?”
“Hello brother,” she replied.
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