|My birth mother, Violet|
|My adoptive mother, Violet,|
on her wartime wedding day
Candles for two Violets
A graveside in Norwich
To start with, I would like to take you back to 9th October 2014, a beautiful, sunny day in Modica, Sicily. I am walking along a familiar street, greeting people and looking at what is on the fruit lorries, as I do every day, but my thoughts are a world away, in another era, for today is different: I am on my way to meet my birth sister, after 64 years. Can you imagine how that felt? All I can tell you is that I was happy, experienced no anxiety and felt as if I was truly going home, a sensation which intensified the moment we fell into each other's arms and sobbed the years away.
|Chiesa di San Giacomo Apostolo,|
I had trusted Jill from the first communication we had had just a few months before and I knew I would like her. But as I spent time with her that week, I began to realise how very much I loved her. Yes, she was the person with whom, had the world been a little less cruel in 1950, I might have grown up and we might have shared so much but it was no use going there now, for we cannot know what might have happened. All we could, and can, do is to enjoy what we have and nurture it as if it were a little garden of sisters.
And when we visited another garden one evening that week, the beautiful Giardino Ibleo in Ragusa Ibla, I found, to my surprise, that the charming church of San Giacomo Apostolo was open and there I lit a candle for each of my two mums, who were both called Violet [though my birth mum didn't like the name]. I'm sure they were with us.
A graveside in Norwich
This year it was a great pleasure to be able to spend some time in Norwich, UK with Jill and her husband and to meet the rest of my wonderful birth family, all of whom I would like to thank here for their warmth, kindness, acceptance and love.
When Jill and I visited our mother's grave, I had thought I was prepared but nothing could have readied me for the tide of emotion that would engulf me. In Romina Power's book Ti prendo per mano, a novel based on the time she spent nursing her own mother through terminal illness, there is a poem entitled Il Profumo della vita [The Scent of Life] which expresses all that I wanted to say so I read it out in Italian and in English, thus bringing a little of Italy to my first Violet. Then I fell into my sister's arms again and cried till no more tears would come: all those years of wondering about my birth mother - whether she was still alive [I always hoped], what she was like [spirited, intelligent, kind and brave, I now know], whether she looked like me [the answer is very much so], whether she thought of me sometimes [of course she did, every day] and a thousand other questions. And it all ended here, at this graveside in Norwich - except that it hadn't, because love does not die. In this season of love, I am holding on to that.
|I never thought I would receive Xmas cards like this.....|
|....... or be wearing items that belonged to my birth mum.|
Romina Power reads Il Profumo della vita