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Since the meeting yesterday with the young woman claiming to be Sandy’s long lost daughter, Cathy had felt uneasy and had been wondering about several things. 

Most noticeably, the young woman hadn’t given many clues as to how she spent her days, nor did she say much about her family except that they were kind and loving.  She skirted around questions of her early life, childhood and schooling, although she did have several photographs that she had sent with an email and brought with her to the meeting.

Cathy had been a Nun for many years, and the decision to forsake her way of life, the vows she had made, didn’t come easily.  However, she had been part of an open order that had the Sisters going out into the community to work with the needy, the poor, orphans and the homeless.  One of the places to which Cathy had been sent was a centre in the East End of London that worked with women and pregnant, unmarried, women in particular.  They tried to find homes for these women and helped them after they had given birth whether or not they had kept the baby.

After many years Cathy decided that the life in the convent was not for her any longer.  As she said “After struggling for many months I came to the conclusion that I didn’t need a habit or vows in order to be true to myself.  But being a nun taught me that the most important thing in life, regardless of what religion you are is to be kind to people and to have a kind heart.”  So this is what she took with her into the world. 

And it was to this centre in the East End that she went with her people skills and her kind heart.  And it was there that she met Sandy and so became involved in this major happening in Sandy’s life.

Over the years of dealing with so many people, and particularly women, Cathy had become adept at reading people.  Her feeling about the young woman, Barbara, was that she was hiding something.  She didn’t think the woman was being particularly truthful and honest about herself.  She wondered what the secret could be and also how she could help Sandy.  Sandy was so keen to accept this young woman at face value that Cathy was concerned for her.  Was she headed for disappointment or was she, Cathy, reading too much into the unanswered questions.  Her years in the convent had taught her that when confronted by a difficult question or decision to be made, the right thing for her to do was pray for guidance.  This she did at the first opportunity.

Well she didn’t get a lightening flash with an answer but she did come away knowing that she must do all she could to protect Sandy.  Through her work at the Women’s Centre she had met a Police Inspector whose friendship and counsel she valued.  She had seen this man working with some of the abused women who came to the Centre and she knew that he was a kindly man.  She knew he would listen to her concerns without shaking her off and so she determined to seek his advice to see whether anything could be found out about this woman.  After all, the police had many sources of information available to them that was not available to the general public.

Cathy didn’t know Greg, Sandy’s ex husband, and so she had no idea that Greg had also decided to employ the services of his friend, the private detective.

Early the next morning she set about putting her plan into practice.  But first she had to talk to Sandy to see if there had been any further communication from the young woman.  Maybe all the questions had been answered and there was no need for her to  worry any more or to involve her friend.

“Love is not patronizing and charity isn’t about pity,
it is about love.

Charity and love are the same;  with charity you give love,
so don’t just give money but reach out your hand instead.”
― Mother Teresa

Episode 10 in The Sandy Saga



As she waited on the DLR (District Light Railway) station she thought how very easy it had been.  She was quite sure she had convinced the woman, Sandy that she was the long lost daughter.  And wasn’t it lucky that they agreed to meet at the Westfield Mall at Stratford.  That was only a five minute train ride away from her rooms in Plaistow.

She had taken particular care with her hair and dress, remembering how the other Barbara had dressed.  Not today the short short skirts, tight tops and high heels of her usual dress.  Today she was much more subdued.  Skirt and blouse with sensible shoes.  And very little makeup.

She remembered the day  she met another Barbara when they started to work together at the solicitors office in Holborn.  This girl had also been adopted and they spent many hours talking about their situations.  How she had been brought up in a variety of foster homes and how the other Barbara had landed on her feet having been adopted into a warm loving family.

Somehow, this unlikely pair formed a bond.  Many hours were spent reminiscing and they each got to know the other very well.  They talked of so many things, and shared parts of their lives that they had never shared with any other person.  Then came the day when the other Barbara didn’t turn up for work and she heard that there had been a dreadful car crash the day before.  Barbara, her mother and father had all died at the scene.

She really missed her friend. They had been so much more than just work mates.  She started to read the Death Notices in the paper and so learned about the funeral.  The funeral was to be held in St James Church in Cowley where Barbara had been brought up. It was easy to get there by public transport.  She would walk to West Ham Station and from there take the tube, with one change, to Uxbridge then a bus to Cowley.  Having lived in London for many years she was used to travelling by underground (the tube) and could easily find her way from one line to the next.    The difficulty would be finding the church once she got there.  So she would  allow  herself plenty of time just in case she got lost.

She took the day off from work to attend the funeral, standing in the back of the church away from family and friends. Attending brought home the fact that she would never see her friend again.  She went home feeling very dejected.

And then after time she thought “Why shouldn’t I become the other Barbara?”  She knew many of the little details that made up the other girl’s life.  She knew about the search for her birth mother and the unsuccessful attempts.  She also knew that there was another lead to follow.  She had her friend’s notebook with all the unsuccessful leads followed and crossed out and there was just one more lead.  So she sent the email.

She regretted the action immediately, but then it began to take on a life of its own.  The response from Sandy, the meeting and promises to keep in touch.

“Perhaps at last I’ll  have a family to be part of.” She thought and “I’m not hurting anybody am I?.  Sandy wanted me to be the long lost daughter and I want to be her daughter.”

She thought this could well be a win-win situation. A smile lit up her face and her eyes shone as she began the walk home from the station wondering how soon she would hear from Sandy.

“Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive!
Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, 
Scottish author & novelist (1771 – 1832)

Episode 9 in the Sandy Saga



Greg was a large, kindly, gentle man with grey hair and  bright brown owl like eyes magnified by the spectacles he wore.  Most often the spectacles were perched half way down his nose but without the spectacles he could hardly see a foot in front of him.  He was the sort of man people immediately warmed to and trusted. 

Having seen Sandy to her car he turned to begin the walk home.  It was a beautiful autumn afternoon and the streets of Islington were at their best.  Trees lined both sides of many streets and of course, the home owners in this borough took great pride in their gardens.  Well, most did.  There was the odd garden that was sorely in need of attention, but in the main they were well tended. 

But on his walk home today he took little notice of his surroundings. He had much to think about and knew that as soon as he arrived home Julia would want to know what all the fuss was about. 

Obviously, he would have to tell her about the child that had suddenly reappeared into Sandy’s life.  This was one secret he had kept from Julia as it really wasn’t his secret to tell.  But now she had to know. 

He worried about the effect this reappearance was having on Sandy.  Clearly she wanted to believe that this Barbara was her long lost daughter.  And certainly the girl had some information on where and when she had been born, but was she really Sandy’s child?

What could he/they do to confirm her claim was legitimate? He had a friend who had been involved in some private detection company but Greg didn’t know if he was still involved. He’d give him a call when he arrived home.  Although they had little to go  on, not even knowing where the girl lived.  But hopefully, they would have that piece of information once Sandy heard back from the girl. He’d feel better if he thought he was doing something to help Sandy.

When he arrived home Julia was waiting eager to hear just what had happened. He told her about the email, the meeting and the girl. She in turn, told him about the call from his son and the promise she had made that Greg would call him as soon as he arrived home. He knew  2.30 pm in London was 6.30 am in Vancouver but he also knew that his son would have hardy slept waiting for his father to call him. 

So he made the call.  Of course, Ian wanted to know how long Greg had known about this child given for adoption.  When had he and his mother discussed this and when and why had they decided to keep it secret from him.  Surely he had a right to know that he had a half sister somewhere in the world and maybe he might have wanted to find her.

 Obviously, Ian was very upset and Greg did his best to placate him.  He told his son that he was going to do all he could to confirm whether or not this Barbara was his mother’s daughter.  She had some evidence but here were also several unanswered questions and Greg promised his son that he would do all he could to get them answered. 

After brief chats with Val and the boys they said their goodbyes with Greg promising to be in touch again as soon as there was anything to tell.

 Next it was a cup of tea with Julia attempting to answer more of her questions,  and then the call to the friend who had been at one time, involved with a detective agency. 

As expected the friend was out on Sunday afternoon but he left a message for him to call.  Several hours later the phone call came.  He told Greg that he was still involved with the detective agency and would see what further information he could gain about the young woman. Thanking him, Greg rang off.

 Now Greg had to make a decision whether to tell Sandy that he had involved his friend.  He knew she wanted answers to the questions and felt sure that she would agree with what he had done. He phoned her and she did readily agree.

 Before they rang off they agreed to meet once Sandy had a response from Barbara to the email she had just sent. After that they could determine their next step.

“Cherish your human connections –
your relationships with friends and family.”
Barbara Bush – wife of the 41st President of the United States, 

George H. W. Bush,

This is episode 8 in the Sandy Saga.



Trusted Advice

The call to Ian was without a doubt the hardest phone call she had ever made.

After the initial pleasantries were over Sandy launched into her story.  She blurted it out quickly.  How she had left her family home to go into the big City – London.  And how she had met with a group of people who quickly became her ‘friends’.  It was more difficult to explain her being involved in free love and then eventually becoming pregnant.

It became easier to tell about meeting the priest and the subsequent stay in the “unmarried mothers home” followed by the adoption.  As Ian tried to interrupt with questions, she ignored him and went on with her story.  Culminating with the meeting on Saturday that followed on receiving the initial email.

Having told him all that, she sat back in her chair absolutely emotionally wrung out. She felt exhausted, as if she had run a mile.  And now it was time to answer her son’s questions.

At first there was no voice at the other end of the line.  “Are you still there darling” Sandy asked.  ‘Yes Mother” came the deep voice of her son, that was now faintly tinged with a Canadian accent.  He then asked the expected questions.  How long ago?; Who was the father?; Had she never tried to find out what happened to the child?; Did his father know about this before they married; What was his father’s reaction?

She answered these questions as well as she could but in a very timid voice quite unlike her usual voice.  And then Val, Ian’s wife came on the phone wanting to know whether the woman had children; was she married; what was Sandy going to do now.  

And Sandy realised there were even more questions that Barbara had either left unanswered or skillfully evaded.

The phone call ended with love from both sides and promises to be in touch again soon.  Sandy said that she would call again once she’d had another meeting with Barbara.

The first hurdle over.  Now to meet with her ex. She had arranged to meet him at their local pub.  She prepared carefully, taking care over her dress and her makeup.  Greg had always been conscious of the way she looked.

As soon as she entered the saloon bar she saw him sitting at a table by the window with an open newspaper at his side and beer and a white wine in front of him.  He had seen her drive up and so was up on his feet as she entered the room.  The smile on his face told her he was happy to see her and the welcome in his eyes told her she would always love this man even though she couldn’t live with him.

They embraced as friends and sat down.  After the usual small talk “How are you?” What have you been doing?” etc he then asked her why she had wanted to see him.  So she filled him in with all the happenings of the previous week, starting with the initial email, through to the meeting the day before.  She told him of her delight at meeting the young woman and how she was convinced that it really was her daughter.  But she also told him her concerns about the unanswered questions.  Where did she live, how and with whom?

Of course, his first question was had she told Ian?  She told him of the phone call and the questions raised by both Ian and his wife, Val and their promises to be in touch again soon.

Greg, her ex, decided that they needed more time than that for just a pre-lunch drink and suggested lunch.  She readily accepted and he went off to tell his partner where he was and what he was doing.  The split between Sandy and Greg had been amicable and when he became involved with Julia she was naturally introduced to Sandy.  So there would be no problem with his having lunch with Sandy.

They ordered from the bar menu so that they could continue sitting at their table and talking over the situation.  Greg felt it important that before meeting Barbara again Sandy should get answers to the questions she had.  They talked round and round this subject until it was eventually agreed that Sandy send an email to Barbara telling her how happy she was to have met her and also asking the questions.  Once she had these answers Sandy would meet Barbara again, with Cathy if she were agreeable, and get to know her a little more.  Sandy felt very relieved that another person was helping her make decisions.

They then talked of more mundane things, work, their grandsons in Vancouver and how well they were doing, when, if ever, Ian would return to England, when Sandy planned to visit Canada again, etc etc.

So it was with a much lighter heart that Sandy left the pub on that sunny winter afternoon.  She drove home with a smile on her face, singing along with the radio much to the amusement of the young men in the car next to her at the lights.

Tomorrow, she thought, was another day….

“Trust your instincts, and make judgments on what
your heart tells you.

The heart will not betray you.”
― David Gemmell, Fall of Kings

Related :
A Pregnant Pause; Looking for Answers; Decisions Made;
Saturday’s Meeting
; Opening the Box




Opening the Box

On the way home Sandy and Cathy discussed the meeting with Barbara.  “Well I think that went well, don’t you?” Cathy asked. As Sandy didn’t respond immediately she looked over to her.

“Is everything alright?” she asked.  “Is something bothering you?”.

“I’m probably just being silly but I wonder why she didn’t tell us where she was living.  We heard a lot about the house in which she was brought up but nothing about where she lives now”.  Sandy worried.  She thought it strange that Barbara had omitted this from the discussion.  Also when asked what she did for a living, Barbara had quickly and effortlessly it seemed, changed the subject.  So what was she hiding?

When they arrived at Sandy’s house it was agreed that they would meet again in a couple of days so that Sandy could get her head around what she had learned and where she wanted to go from here.  She had so many decisions to make but the main one was when and who to tell of this new development.

She went inside and hung her coat on the hall stand.  She stood looking at the stand for a while.  It had always been part of her life it seemed.  It had stood in the hall all through her growing up years.  She could remember her father standing in front of it, adjusting his hat and tie before going out for a drink with his friends.  Her mother always put on the bright red lipstick there and she always looked in the mirror to check her hair before opening the front door.  Then when Sandy’s mother had to move into the retirement home, the hall stand came to live in Sandy’s hall.

But delving into these memories was only a way to put off making some decisions.

Of course, Ian her son would have to be told before anyone else.  Though goodness knows how he would react to this side of his mother about which he knew absolutely nothing.  And what of Val his wife?  How would she react to a mother-in-law who had a child before she was married and had given it up for adoption?

Sandy had never talked to her son about her life before she met his father, and certainly had never told him how she had been involved in the Swinging Sixties.  Oh he knew about that era – who didn’t, but how would he feel about his mother having been part of it?  Questions that could only be answered by calling him.

 She checked the time in Vancouver and was pleased to see it was only 6am there and so far too early to make a call.  So she could put that call off for several hours.  Perhaps after the boys had finished sport and the family had lunch would be a good time to call.  But would any time be a good time?

So that decision made, she called her ex husband.  Unfortunately, Saturday afternoon and he was out,  Probably at the football which was his passion.  West Ham was his team and they were playing at home to Arsenal.  He wouldn’t miss that. 

So she left a message on voice mail for him to call her when he got in.  She thought she would suggest they meet for a pre lunch drink at the local pub tomorrow, Sunday.  It would be easier telling him about Barbara face to face.

Now who else would she have to tell?  Her mother was in a retirement centre drifting in and out of dementia.  Should she even tell her?  It was so long ago and it would probably disturb her.  No.  That decision was easily made. She wouldn’t mention the meeting when next she saw her mother.

So who else to tell.  Her bridge friends – no, they were more acquaintances than friends although they did she each other each week and exchanged tidbits about their lives.  And if/when it came out, as it obviously would, they would be hurt that she hadn’t told them. 

So she decided to make a list.  Always making lists was Sandy.  She was methodical and said that once she saw the scope or scale of a chore written down in list form, she could get her head around it.

So Ian, her son was at the top of the list, followed by her ex-husband, her bridge friends, Grace her next door neighbour with whom she was quite friendly and of course, her closest friend Julia would have to be told.

But none of these other calls would be made until after she had spoken to her son and her ex-husband.

The question of what Barbara was hiding would have to wait for another day.

“You can’t make decisions based on fear and
the possibility of what might happen.”
― Michelle Obama


From Strength to Strength

“You gave me strength to stand alone again
To face the world out on my own again
You put me high upon a pedestal
So high that I could almost see eternity”
You Needed Me sung by Anne Murray

Today’s post is all about me.  I heard Anne Murray singing this song on the radio and these four lines jumped out at me.

Family, friends both in the real world and in the blogosphere have given me the “strength to stand alone again” after the sudden death of the Architect.  So thank you all.

Have you read Sara Henderson’s “From Strength to Strength”?  It and the follow up “The Strength in Us All” were given to me  by my sn on his father’s sudden death some 18 years ago  

Sarah tells of her early marriage to a gung-ho American entrepreneur in the 1950’s, his infidelities in Hong Kong in the 1960’s, and finally, upon her husband’s early death, discovering he has left her virtually bankrupt on a million acre property in the Australian outback with 3 young daughters to raise alone. The book delves into her struggles to prevent the bank foreclosing, but much more than that, it tells the story of one woman’s courage and will to go on.  So with this example I picked myself up and went on with life.  And I’m doing so again now.

If you haven’t read these books I suggest you get copies.  Both are available at Amazon in print and kindle form.  Enjoy.

“Don’t wait for a light to appear at the end of the tunnel,
stride down there and light the
bloody thing yourself.”
Sara Henderson


Contagious Creativity

I read this post today from Marylin Warner on Things I Want to Tell My Mother.  What a great idea.  I really hope that some struggling writer/artist/mother, reads this and makes application to The Sustainable Arts Foundation without delay.  Think how many lives can be changed.  Just to have enough money to be able to attend a conference and meet other writers, or pay for child care, materials etc.

I imagine the excitement of a mother suddenly having the means to pursue her creative ambitions and Contagious Creativity really would describe what was going on and how the mother would feel at a conference.

Thanks for bringing this to our attention Marylin.


Saturday’s Meeting

Sandy hardly slept on Friday night. She kept thinking of the next day, what she would say, what Barbara would say and of course, what would she wear.  She was keen to appear to be a woman in charge of herself when she met this young woman and dressing well would help her feel in charge as well as appearing so.  Women will understand this.

She was ready a couple of hours before she had to leave.  Cathy was to pick her up at 11.30 and drive her to the mall.  Sandy was very pleased they had made this decision; she didn’t think she would be fit to drive today.  Lack of sleep, a strong black coffee and no breakfast were working their mayhem. She wandered around the house, tidying where there was no need, straightening the cushions and polishing the kitchen benches.  Mindless things to fill up the time until Cathy arrived.

Sandy was out of the door before the car had stopped.  Cathy of course, was very calm and attempted to calm Sandy.  She spoke quietly encouraging Sandy.  They spoke only of the coming meeting and how it might work out.  Then they were at the mall and parking the car.  With a hug Cathy helped Sandy out of the car and they went towards the coffee shop.

Sandy looked around and immediately spotted the young woman from the photograph she had sent.  They made their way to the table.  The young woman jumped up to hug Cathy only to be told that was the wrong woman.  Of course, she hadn’t received a photograph and made an assumption.

Laughter and apologies over the mistake and the three women sat down.  Coffee was ordered and the questions started.  So many questions from Sandy and as many from Barbara.  Sandy of course was trying to determine whether she could be this young woman’s mother.  Barbara said that since she had communicated with Sandy she had questioned her parents more about the adoption and now knew about the home, where it was and abut the priest who had introduced Sandy to the people who ran the home.

She told Sandy about her life with her adoptive parents whom she called Mum and Dad.  They had no other children and were very good to her.  Even though she had no siblings she was part of a large extended family; many aunts, uncles and cousins.  Life had been good to her.

When asked why she decided to track down her mother, she said it had been something she had thought about for several years but only recently had discussed it with her parents.  They encouraged her and in fact it was her father who had suggested that they should see if the house was still there performing the same function.  The three of them went together having made an appointment to speak to the woman in charge.  Of course, after so many years it wasn’t the same woman and she had no knowledge of Sandy.  However, she promised to do some investigating and let them know what if anything she found out.

Several weeks later, after they had given up any hope of hearing from her, they received a letter giving them the name and location of the priest and also her birth mother’s name.  Then it was up to them to trace her.

After several more attempts they were successful and here they were.

Sandy was overjoyed as was Barbara.  They talked and laughed together, beginning to get to know each other.  Then it was time to leave.  They promised to keep in touch.  Sandy still had some decisions to make about telling her son, her friends and her estranged husband would also have to be told.

They hugged for a final time and all left the coffee shop, Sandy and Cathy going to Cathy’s car and Barbara moving off in the other direction.  Once in the car it occured to Sandy that Barbara hadn’t told them where she lived and how…..



Decisions Made

“Life is what we make it,
always has been,

always will be.”
Grandma Moses

The email elicited an immediate response.  The woman whose name was Barbara sent details of her birth date and her adoptive parents.  She knew that she had been born to an unmarried mother and thought that was in a home caring for pregnant girls.  But she didn’t know exactly where this home was.  She also attached several photographs one of her as a toddler in the arms of a man with a woman looking on with a loving smile.  A really happy family snapshot.  Another showed her as a teenager and the third showed her as a young woman in her early twenties, with a serious look in her eye.  Sandy could see no resemblance to herself but then as she had no idea who the father of this child was maybe the resemblance was more towards him.

She printed out the email and hurried round to share the news with Cathy at the Resource Centre.  Cathy was delighted to see her and to know how swiftly Barbara had responded.  They talked about how to proceed from here.  It was decided that Sandy and Cathy would meet Barbara at a local coffee shop rather than at Sandy’s house.  They thought it better to meet on neutral grounds in case things did not go well.  It was further decided that Sandy should go home, write an email suggesting they meet at the weekend in the coffee shop at the local mall.  After all she didn’t know where Barbara was living, if she worked through the week or even if she had some other responsibilities.  Really she knew so little about the girl.

So another email was sent setting a time and place and even though Sandy now had a photograph she was concerned she wouldn’t recognise the young woman.  A suggestion was made that she carry a certain magazine under her arm as she entered the cafe.  Very cloak and dagger; almost like a thriller.

Another email received accepting the arrangement and concluding with the sentence that she, Barbara, was looking forward to meeting Sandy on the following Saturday.  Sandy advised Cathy of the arrangement and then settled down with her thoughts of what she might have set in train.

If this person were her daughter then she would have to advise her son of her existence and some of her close friends would also need to know, but she could leave all that until she was convinced that Barbara was indeed her long lost daughter.

Saturday loomed large in her thoughts over the next few days – far off but also very  close.  Sandy wasn’t sure how she would feel when she met Barbara and how she would cope if it turned out that this was her daughter. And what if it wasn’t?  Would she have raked up her past for nothing.  But whatever came of it, she now had a new very real friend in Cathy.  A friend in whom she could confide.  She made another decision that whatever the outcome of Saturday’s meeting was, she would offer to volunteer at the Centre.  She had the time and the energy; surely Cathy could find something useful for her to do.


Looking for Answers

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud became more
than the risk it took to blossom.
Anais Nin, Author 1903-1977

A few days ago we left Sandy pondering on the dilemma of whether to agree to meet a young woman claiming or asking if she could be, her lost daughter.

Sandy had given her child for adoption many years ago and had heard nothing about her from that time until she received an email asking whether she could be the mother of this unknown woman.  Now….

Sandy awoke the next morning with no answers and no closer to making a decision as to whether or not she should agree to meet the woman.  What if she met her and they took an instant dislike to each other; then old wounds would have been opened for nothing.  What if it was a trick and how had this woman tracked her down anyway.  She had spent a sleepless night with these thoughts worrying around in her head.

But what to do?  She remembered having met an ex Nun at the Women’s Resource Centre when she had dropped off some clothes that no longer fit her.  She had a long talk with the  ex Nun, Cathy and discussed maybe volunteering at the Centre.  Perhaps she would be a person to whom she could talk.

She quickly finished her breakfast and set off for the Women’s Centre before she could change her mind.  When she arrived she found that Cathy, the Nun, was in the office and appeared pleased to see Sandy again.  She readily agreed to speak with her in private but was surprised that it wasn’t about volunteering that Sandy had come to see her.

She listened without interruption to the story at the end of which she sat back and thought before making any comment.  The first thing Cathy asked was whether Sandy was prepared for the past be be brought to life.  If this was her daughter then her son and his family would have to know as would her friends.  Was she ready for this?

Of course,this was one of the many questions that kept Sandy awake through the night.  How would her son react to the fact that his mother had a child with another man and had her adopted.  She had no answer to that.

If she was prepared for all this to happen then Cathy suggested she respond to the email asking for birth dates and any information the young woman had about her birth.  Perhaps she knew of the home where she had been born.  Cathy also suggested asking for a photo so that any likeness could be recognised.  Sandy agreed to this and said she would send the response as soon as she got home.

As she was preparing to leave, Cathy made her an offer to accompany Sandy to a meeting if one was to happen.  Sandy felt so much better for this offer and thanked the ex Nun profusely.  She left the Centre with a much lighter heart and with a plan on how to move forward.