I had been found by my sister Stretch and her daughter The Doc. And thus began the media avalanche.
Because she lives in Joburg and we’re in The Cape we were limited in the contact we could have. We quickly became the ‘Email Queens’- later extended to the ‘BBM Beauties’.
I remember one morning I was doing the set up at the restaurant and pictures were sent through to my Black Berry. Not suspecting anything I opened it and there, for the first time, I laid eyes on my mother.
Well I nearly lost the plot. I was 43, had searched my whole life for her and there she was – living in my phone!
It’s a strange thing to finally get what you’ve wanted all your life. It felt so surreal. I was ecstatic to see her despite the fact that they were taken years previously, I was gobsmacked that it was even happening AND I was saddened. Kids who are seperated from their birth parents often have this fantasy that when they see their parents they will have a sense of recognition, of familiarity. I didn’t. She was a stranger. I spent most of that day looking at the pics and pretending to work. I was completely ‘discombobulated!’.
Finally after a few weeks Stretch arranged to come down for a visit. There wasn’t enough rescue remedy in the world to prepare for such an event!
The day before she came down I was in such a state of nervousness, cleaning the flat, trying to decide what to wear, say, do. By the time I got to work I was completely frazzled. Seeing the condition I was in, one of the lady chefs gently took me aside and started sharing HER story with me.
Her husband had been seperated from his father and somehow she had managed to find out where he was, and without telling her husband had arranged a suprise visit.
She very gently encouraged me to be myself. She reminded me that I was good enough as I was and besides if I suddenly primped myself up in ‘girlie clothes’ and miraculously agreed to wear make up, it wouldn’t help, because my sister would eventually discover that I was in fact a tomboy who loved t-shirts and jeans and considered make up a harsh and cruel punishment!
So bless her heart, thanks to the chef, I went to wait for her downstairs, complete with my trusty blue ‘Miss Giggles’ t-shirt and raggedy jeans.
Heavens she was tall! How is it possible that all my sibs were tall and I was the short shit in both families? Damn mother, you and I will have to talk! AND she had the family eyes, gorgeous ocean blue – I of course have pool dirt brown….grumble, grumble!
Now adoptives usually have all these very intricate fantasies of how they would meet their families and what would be said and done. My fantasy of Stretch had gone along the lines of knocking at the door of a cottage and the door being opened by a solid, buxom, bulky blond with her arms across her chest, barring the doorway.
‘What do you want with me mum you wee bastard?’ would be the first words she grated out as I stood in the snow, trying to be brave.
In retrospect I think I’d watched too many B-grade movies!
Of course I was hopelessly inaccurate!
She walked into the foyer and hugged me.
She was tall and beautiful with the gentlest voice and the biggest heart.
I had sent my youngest, The Diva, to her dad for the weekend so that we could talk uninterrupted. and talk we did! What I found out that day blew me away. I won’t go into all the details but not only did I discover that Stretch hadn’t grown up with our mum either, ‘but eeeer did you know you have a brother too?’, nearly toppled me off my chair.
We finally realised that neither of us had eaten that day and we were running out of time so we went trawling off to the Waterfront, ending up at the Spur. When the friend she was staying with arrived to pick her up , she duly hopped out of the car and hugged me too!
The following day I had booked us a table for the jazz lunch at the Winchester Mansions Hotel. Stretch had arrived at the flat with a humungous package wrapped in paper which she wouldn’t let me see until later.
So we duly get in the car and on the back seat I see 2 stones of rose quartz. ‘Wow these are gorgeous’ I said, ‘yes’ says the friend, ‘you got the big one, those are for Stretch!’
Bloody hell! Well that ruined the suprise. OMG I thought my sister was going to crack! Stretch had bought me a rose quartz rock, the size of a small dog! It took a while for us all to stop laughing at the Mega-fail, but I think I finally managed to splutter a thank you before reeling off into another fit of giggles!
Well off to The Winchester!
When I had booked the table I had asked for a small, quiet table because my sister and I were meeting for the first time. When we got there and were seated the manager came over and asked if we were ‘The Sisters’. The next thing we knew he had offered to photograph us and while we were eating had arranged for one of their drivers to shoot down to the Waterfront and have the pics developed. Round about dessert time he had returned with 2 photo frames with the words ‘Family’ on top, one for each of us.
We were completely gob-smacked! I eventually, on his request, I wrote a piece for their webpage, complete with photograph. We were famous! Our day there was great, but bless him, he made it fabulous.
That afternoon The Diva came home and met her new aunty for the first time. Loved her immediately! Discovering that Stretch was going to be in town for another day I duly begged the work to give me a day off so that I could spend as much time as possible with her.
Saying goodbye was HARSH.
I don’t know why we got so lucky. There are many family reunions that are devastating.
We connected by email, connected by heart and then connected in the flesh. I adored her on site.
Now anyone who knows me also understands that I’m a talkative, tough, ciggy-swinging maniac. But when it came time to say goodbye I felt like a child. I was lost for words. I didn’t want to let go of my new big sister.
After all who the heck was going to read me my bedtime stories!!!!