Ian put down the phone after saying goodbye to his mother. He told her he loved her, but in a mechanical voice with none of the love he felt for his mother, in it.. He had heard the phrase “reeling from shock” but now he knew just what that meant.
He had trouble picturing his staid and sensible mother as a ‘flower child’ of the “Swinging Sixties”. And yes, he was having trouble forgiving her for keeping him in the dark about this unknown ‘sister’ for so long. But of course, he didn’t know the conversations she and his father had about whether or not to tell him about the child.
He had to speak to his father but when he got through to the house in Islington he was told by Julia that Greg was out meeting Sandy. She said she was a little worried at the anxious tone in Sandy’s voice when she had asked Greg to call her, the phone call from Greg to say that he would be delayed until after lunch and now this call from Vancouver. Her mind was running in all directions. Had there been an accident? Had somebody been hurt? Was somebody seriously ill? All these questions and more had been plaguing her since the voicemail message of the day before. And Greg had been next to useless saying”I don’t know any more than you” and “We’ll find out when I meet Sandy.” Well at least with this call from Ian she knew that all was well in Vancouver.
Ian didn’t want to discuss this matter with Julia preferring to leave it to his father to decide how much, or how little to tell her. So after a very brief chat on how the boys were getting on and whether she and Greg would visit that summer he hung up after asking her to have his father call him as soon as he arrived home.
He was a very sensible young man and had always been known for his calm manner and the way he had of seeing his way through problems. People trusted him and went to him for help. But this was totally outside his ken. His eyes, so like his mother’s, showed how worried he was.
Then after putting down the phone he saw Val looking at him waiting for some answers. After telling her his father would call him later, they sat down to discuss this turn of events in their lives. For the first time, Tony doubted the wisdom of packing up and moving the family to Canada. He even thought that if Sandy had come with them this Barbara person would have found it almost impossible to track her down. Canada was so big and such a long way away from London. They had asked Sandy to move with them but were secretly pleased when she had decided to stay in London.
“Will you have to go to London to meet this Barbara?” asked Val. “Your mother might need some family support”. “Probably not immediately” replied Ian “Father is there and will always be ready to support her in any way. Aren’t we lucky that it was such an amicable divorce? Imagine how awful this would be if they weren’t speaking to each other and mother was on her own.”
For the next couple of hours they kept coming back to the subject, trying to imagine how Sandy was feeling now that this event from her past had come to light after so many years.. No doubt she had blocked that time from her memory – but how? How had she lived with this secret for so long? Only Sandy could answer that.
So Ian waited for his father to call. He looked around this bright spacious home and compared it to the garden flat his mother lived in. There was nothing wrong with her flat but it certainly lacked the space he enjoyed and the lack of sunshine was a big drawback. But she seemed to be happy with her life.
Meanwhile, back in Hackney Sandy was working out the words for the next email to Barbara.
In time of test, family is best. ~Burmese Proverb