I was born in 1938, just a year before the outbreak of WW2. Whilst I was growing up, the war wasn't a new thing to me, it had always been there. Short rations and air raid shelters were the normal way of life to a little girl of that era.
I I didn't even miss my daddy as he was a sailor and was rarely at home. Then, one day he wasn't coming home ever again, the telegram said " missing in action " , Mum knew what that meant.
I was just four years old when he was killed and sadly, have no memory of him at all
My Mum, like many women of that generation, never said much about him, he was gone and she had two daughters to feed and care for on her own, she also had to find a job . I think her way of coping with her grief was just to get on with life and not think about it.
She must have been coming to terms with her loss when another tragedy struck. Our house was demolished by a flying bomb or buzz bomb as we called them. A friend took us in whilst we waited to be rehomed and Mum, as usual was stoical and just coped.
The war ended but Mum didn't keep any contact with Dad's family or at least, very little. They were Londoners and we lived in Portsmouth so we lost touch.
She remarried eventually and had another child
Looking back, I can't say her husband was an ideal match but they rubbed along and she never seemed too unhappy.
She lived to a good age and mellowed somewhat as she became more dependent. Her husband had died after having early dementia and spending his last couple of years in a mental hospital.
We became closer but she still would never speak about Dad and I felt the loss of him very strongly
After she had passed, I determined to find my missing family, I knew I had cousins out there somewhere and we were now in the computer age so the search began.
The appeals I put out brought a response from my cousin's daughter. We confirmed some details to ensure we had it right and that led to phone calls to Scotland where my cousin was living..............we didn't stop talking for ages.
I had family I hadn't known existed and before I knew it, a grand reunion was arranged at my house. what a day that was, three new cousins and their husbands and my sister and her husband
The men didn't get a look in, we just talked and talked. I learnt about their families, members of our family who were no longer with us, I had missed my Dad's last sister by just a few months which was such a shame, I could had learnt so much from her.
They told me of a cousin in South Africa and another in Devon who was too frail to travel.
My South African cousin and me
Since that day we have met up several times and last year my South African cousin came here to UK on holiday and we did meet which was wonderful.
Sadly the cousin who was closest to me and lived in East Sussex died but we were able to become close friends before I lost her again.