You will all remember the exciting piece of news last Christmas when, thanks to my distant cousin Anne, in England, and her cousin Michele in America, we discovered my grandfather had a younger half-sister who still lives in New York state? Well, after my dad personally rang his newly-discovered aunt, he sent her a short letter giving her a few details about our side and “our history” (which is so long and unusual I’m not sure if my Internet connection would crash if I told you); he also enclosed several photocopied documents relating to her father, my Italian-born American great-grandfather, and a few photos of my immediate family, so at least our new cousins can actually put a face to the names.
Our great-aunt must have written her reply almost immediately, for yesterday we received a letter from her, and would you believe it, it was actually Father’s Day (in Spain anyway), so my dad was in for a treat, perhaps one of the best gifts he has received in many years. His aunt Rita kindly enclosed a short note, answering some of his questions and also asking some herself, and (wait for it) three sepia photos of my grandfather. Yes, it was the very first time my dad has seen what his own father looked like. We were all understandably gob-smacked, as we had visualised this moment in our minds for many years (my father obviously for a few more years than me) but I never really believed the moment would actually come. And yet here we were, on Father’s Day, staring at my grandfather’s jovial, somewhat carefree and mischievous look beyond the grave through three simple snapshots. We were also able to put a face to my great-grandfather, who actually looks a bit like my dad (sorry dad!) and his second wife, my great-aunt’s mother.
I don’t think you can come up with a better, more touching or poignant ending to this saga. Well, it’s not an ending really. In May my parents are going to New York, only this time they are not going to visit the site where my grandfather’s house once stood, nor a demure, apparently silent grave; they are also going to visit Rita, who has kindly signed her letter “Aunt Rita”, and join her in what will be her 81st birthday. Then the circle will be complete – I suppose!