Climbing Family Trees: October 2005

Climbing Family Trees

More great stories, poems, and helpful hints about genealogy and searching for your family's roots from the twin authors of "Climbing Family Trees: Whispers In The Leaves"

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Dear Ancestor

Dear Ancestor
Author Unknown
Your tombstone stands among the rest;
neglected and alone
The name and date are chiseled out
on polished, marbled stone
It reaches out to all who care
It is too late to mourn
You did not know that I exist
You died and I was born.
Yet each of us are cells of you
in flesh, in blood, in bone.
Our blood contracts and beats a pulse
entirely not our own.
Dear Ancestor, the place you filled
one hundred years ago
Spreads out among the ones you left
who would have loved you so.
I wonder if you lived and loved,
I wonder if you knew
That someday I would find this spot,
and come to visit you.

More interesting epitaphs!

On a grave from the 1880's in Nantucket, Massachusetts:
Under the sod and under the trees
Lies the body of Jonathan Pease.
He is not here, there's only the pod:
Pease shelled out and went to God.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The grave of Ellen Shannon in Girard, Pennsylvania is almost a consumer tip:
Who was fatally burned March 21, 1870 by the explosion of a lamp filled with "R.E. Danforth's Non-Explosive Burning Fluid"
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Harry Edsel Smith of Albany, New York:
Born 1903--Died 1942
Looked up the elevator shaft to see if the car was on the way down.
It was.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
In a Thurmont, Maryland, cemetery:
Here lies an Atheist
All dressed up
And no place to go.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Dr. Fred Roberts
Brookland, Arkansas: Office upstairs

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Anna Hopewell’s grave in Enosburg Falls, Vermont
Here lies the body of our dead Annagone to death by a bananaIt wasn't the fruit that dealt the blowBut the skin of the thing that laid her low!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
On a grave from the 1880’s in Nantucket, Massachusetts

“Under the sod
Under these trees
Lies the body of Jonathan Pease.
He is not here,
But only his pod.
He has shelled out his peas,
And gone to his God.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Here lies one who for medicine would not give a little gold,
And so his life he lost:
I bet now he’d wish again to live,
Could he but guess how much his funeral cost.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare,To digg the dust encloased heare!Blest be the man that spares thes stones,And curst be he that moves my bones.William Shakespeare (Holy Trinity Church; Stratford-on-Avon, England)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Edward Elliot
Fairview Lawn Cemetery, Hailifax, Nova Scotia
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thomas O. Murphy
Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver, British Columbia

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Christopher Wren
St. Paul's Cathedral, London, England
If you seek my monument,look around you
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Wife of Peter Leslie
Greyfriar's Churchyard, Edinburgh, Scotland
She was!But words are wanting to say what.Think what a wife should be,And she was that
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
On Margaret Daniels grave at Hollywood Cemetery Richmond, Virginia
She always said her feet were killing her
but nobody believed her.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Interesting Epitaphs

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Benjamin Franklin wrote his own epitaph.(Christ Church Burial Grounds; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
The Body ofB. Franklin, PrinterLike the Cover of an old BookIts Contents turn outAnd Stript of its Lettering & GuildingLies here. Food for WormsFor, it will as he believedappear once moreIn a new and more elegant Editioncorrected and improved ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Lester Moore was a Wells Fargo Co. station agent, and is buried at Boot Hill Cemetery in Tombstone, Arizona
Here lies Lester MooreFour slugs from a .44No Les No More.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In a London, England cemetery:
Ann Mann
Here lies Ann Mann,
Who lived an old maid
But died an old Mann.
Dec. 8, 1767
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"That's All Folks!"The Man of a Thousand VoicesMel Blanc(Hollywood Memorial Park; Hollywood, California)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Called BackEmily Dickinson (West Cemetery; Amherst, Massachusetts)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In a Ribbesford, England, cemetery:
Anna Wallace
The children of Israel wanted bread
And the Lord sent them manna,
Old clerk Wallace wanted a wife,
And the Devil sent him Anna.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Playing with names in a Ruidoso, New Mexico, cemetery:
Here lies
Johnny Yeast
Pardon me
For not rising.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Memory of an accident in a Uniontown, Pennsylvania cemetery:
Here lies the body
of Jonathan Blake
Stepped on the gas
Instead of the brake.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
In a Silver City, Nevada, cemetery:
Here lays Butch,
We planted him raw.
He was quick on the trigger,
But slow on the draw.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Gone are the living, but the dead remain,And not neglected; for a hand unseen,Scattering its bounty like a summer rain,Still keeps their graves and their remembrance green.Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A widow wrote this epitaph in a Vermont cemetery:
Sacred to the memory of my husband John Barnes who died January 3, 1803
His comely young widow, aged 23, has many qualifications of a good wife, and yearns to be comforted.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A lawyer's epitaph in England:
Sir John Strange
Here lies an honest lawyer,
And that is Strange.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night: God said, 'Let Newton be!' and all was light.written by Alexander PopeSir Isaac Newton(Westminster Abbey, London, England)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Someone determined to be anonymous in Stowe, Vermont:
I was somebody.
Who, is no business
Of yours.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Lester Moore was a Wells, Fargo Co. station agent for Naco, Arizona in the cowboy days of the 1880's. He's buried in the Boot Hill Cemetery in Tombstone, Arizona:
Here lies Lester Moore
Four slugs from a .44
No Les No More.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
In a Georgia cemetery:
"I told you I was sick!"
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
John Penny's epitaph in the Wimborne, England, cemetery:
Reader if cash thou art
In want of any
Dig 4 feet deep
And thou wilt find a Penny.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
On Margaret Daniels grave at Hollywood Cemetery Richmond, Virginia:
She always said her feet were killing her but nobody believed her.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
In a cemetery in Hartscombe, England:
On the 22nd of June
- Jonathan Fiddle -
Went out of tune.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Anna Hopewell's grave in Enosburg Falls, Vermont has an epitaph that sounds like something from a Three Stooges movie:
Here lies the body of our Anna
Done to death by a banana
It wasn't the fruit that laid her low
But the skin of the thing that made her go.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
More fun with names with Owen Moore in Battersea, London, England:
Gone away
Owin' more
Than he could pay.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Someone in Winslow, Maine didn't like Mr. Wood:
In Memory of Beza Wood
Departed this life Nov. 2, 1837
Aged 45 yrs.
Here lies one Wood Enclosed in wood
One Wood Within another.
The outer wood Is very good:
We cannot praise The other.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Genealogy Pox

GENEALOGY POXWarning: NO KNOW CURE(Very contagious to mature adults) SYMPTOMS: Continual complaint as to need for names, dates and places. Patient has a blank _expression, sometimes deaf to spouse and children. Has no taste for work of any kind, except feverishly looking through records at libraries and courthouses. Has compulsion to write letters. Swears at the mailman when he doesn't leave mail. Frequents strange places such as, cemeteries, ruins and remote, desolated country areas. Makes secret calls. Hides phone bills from spouse. Mumbles to self. Has strange faraway look in eyes. TREATMENT: Medication is useless. Disease is not fatal, but gets progressively worse. Patient should attend Genealogy workshops, subscribe to Genealogical magazines and be given a quiet corner in the house where they can be alone.REMARKS: The unusual nature of this disease is - the sicker the patient gets, the more he enjoys it. Author unknown

Sunday, October 02, 2005

My Aloha Experience by Terrance Rossi

“My Aloha Experience”
Terrance Rossi
I was raised a middle son in an Italian family of three boys. When I was about six years old my parents began to share with me the story of my adoption at birth. George and Gail Rossi took great care in informing me that I was a chosen child. Throughout my youth, their loving attitude made me feel secure and a natural part of the Rossi clan. My brothers, Michael and Jeff, helped me enjoy the special camaraderie that only brothers can know. I had always felt that my childhood was exceptional. We were always into everything, having too much fun!

My mother, Gail, passed away in the fall of 1982, and my brothers and I were still reeling from the loss. It was a dark and confusing time for all of us, with much soul-searching and self-defining episodes. It was then, just two years later, at the age of twenty, my father, George, opened the door to the rest of my life. I was inspired by the adoption documents he shared with me. My father, being the gracious man that he is, presented me with original documents which gave descriptive clarity to who my biological family was and how they might physically look. This was illuminating! What a wonderful gift my dad was sharing with me! I had always felt I “looked” different. As these windows of light began to explain and expand my self-discovery, soon I began to delve into further research of my hereditary roots. Having been raised by an Italian family from a small town in upstate New York, being born in California, and growing up in Florida, imagine my fascination to learn my birth parents were from Hawaii, and I was actually of Hawaiian ancestry! Wow! How intriguing! Black hair, green eyes, fair complexion - that’s me - but is that what a Hawaiian looks like?

The documents revealed, in the spring of 1964, a young woman from the islands (names were obscured by law) came to California, gave birth to a healthy baby boy, and left the child in the loving arms of a devout and practicing Catholic family - her only term of requirement for the adoptive parents. The child was the answer to the prayers of a young adoptive mother, Gail Rossi, who had been diagnosed by her doctor that she would be unable to have any more children, after only having one son, Jeff, then 5 years old. The story and prayer of the child’s birth mother, Margaret, would then become a secret of the heart for 38 years to follow.

George and Gail Rossi, after only a year in California - as though God’s plan destined them to stop there to receive this special child - moved to Florida after the adoption. That was Gail’s wish and the place her next dream would come true - the birth of her third son, Michael - the child doctor’s told her she could never have…!As years passed, after mom’s death, I went on to college, and went about living my life and learning from it. I began to think more and more about researching my roots. I began to study the documents that my father had given me earlier. My interest peaked as questions about my birth parents’ existence and other possible family members entered my mind. Who and where did I come from? I was intrigued by the fact that my biological mother was Hawaiian and my bio-father was of Portuguese decent.

I satisfied my interest by making a series of phone calls to the county of San Mateo Adoption Services to inquire on my personal birth records and file. Unbeknownst to me, the state of California has very strict adoption privacy laws and it was very difficult to acquire any information. With my dad’s help, we petitioned the court for the file to be opened. Our efforts, however, were only two-thirds of what was necessary to acquire the full information that the file possessed. Most importantly, I still could not uncover the name of my birth mother and father. A third waiver was needed, by a biological parent, in order for the complete file to be opened to me. Through other nongovernmental sources and some “luck,” I did learn my birth father’s name, which was connected to a family of musical renown in the Hawaiian Islands. My birth mother’s name was still a mystery. I was intent on finding her first, out of respect for her privacy and the “secret” she had keep for so long. After all, I was simply researching my genealogy not looking to make contact with anyone This was getting serious - and close - and I was getting nervous about finding answers about my beginnings that I might not like. So, I backed off and at this point, I was satisfied with my researching effort.

On my 38th birthday I found myself on a business trip to Oahu, Hawaii. Prior to the trip my fiancée, Jill-Ann, had suggested that I make a phone call, using the information I had researched years before. I was petrified about making that call and introducing myself as “the son you gave up for adoption!?” Before leaving, I finally got up the gumption to phone a woman who my research had lead me to believe to be my birth mother. Despite my nervousness, I knew I would be discreet. As it turned out, this wonderful Hawaiian woman was not my birth mother, but after hearing my story of research that had now spanned nearly twenty years, she was warm and open in extending her own family and aloha to me in the event I failed to find my real birth mother. It was my first introduction to the “Hawaiian way” and what I was about to discover I was a product of in a BIG way.

In further discussion with this new auntie of mine, she recognized my birth father’s name as an acquaintance of the past and family friend. She then offered to personally meet with my birth father, Jesse, to privately and carefully broach the subject with him. We agreed she should proceed, perhaps my last chance at finding a connection to my Hawaiian family and my birth mother. The meeting was an emotional one! After ten minutes of quiet listening, Jesse gently nodded in acknowledgment - yes this is HIS son…and the boy’s mother is now married to... HIM! They have been happily married for 39 years, and have been waiting, praying and believing that one day he would find his way back to them. They had felt they owed his adoptive parents and him the happiness and home together that they couldn’t provide many years ago.

Now my story blossoms…….. You see my mother and father were smitten with one another back in 1964. They fell in love! Was it love? Just met…too young to know for sure...My father was following in the large footsteps of his father, a well known entertainer and recording artist, playing back-up bass in my grandfather’s band. They were not prepared yet for the life-time commitment of marriage and raising children. So, life-time decisions were made and Margaret left the Islands briefly to deliver George and Gail’s little boy to them. For a time, she resided outside of San Francisco in the town of Redwood City. My birth and adoption would become a secret held in Jesse and Margaret’s hearts for thirty-eight years.

My original research had given me some key pieces, although dim, to the puzzle of my infancy. First of all, the cause of the mistaken identity of my new auntie as my birth mother was that she shared the same maiden name as my birth mother, was around the same age, and was a vocalist performing professionally - like my musically-involved birth father and family. It seemed a likely connection.

In the adoption report, it had stated that my father was not present at my birth. I couldn’t help but wonder why my father wasn’t by her side. It appeared that my eighteen year-old mother gave birth to me at a home for unwed mothers in the care of Catholic nuns. Jesse sent loving and supporting letters from home, but they had agreed to do this, unbeknownst to family and friends. I was the first born son of an amazing woman. Courageous and bestowed with a deep faith that God would look after her child through the love of a young Catholic couple, George and Gail Rossi.
Over the years, my research had highlights of key pieces of information that would add to the puzzle but, would also present more questions. Though my natural curiosity as an adopted child was being stirred, my research had never compelled me to make contact with anyone. Our lives were private from one another and I respected that. Plus, I had a family that loved me and raised me as their very own. Who could ask for more than that? But now, nearly thirty-eight years to the day that my birth mother lay her loving eyes on me, I would receive a phone call from the courageous woman I had searched for. We laughed with tears of joy and just marveled at the sounds of our voices. This was a family affair of large proportions, so there was business to tend to. Margaret asked me to call the house later that evening. To my amazement, Jesse and Margaret had married seven months after my adoption and I was about to speak with my sisters and younger brother for the first time.

That evening, Jesse and Margaret sat down with their children; Minei 36, Kaui, 34, and Jesse III 32, and told them their secret. The next day I phoned my father, George, in Florida and asked for my step-mother Ann, to join us as I explained the discovery I had made. On the Hawaiian side, elders had to be told. This would be shakey ground for them. I was advised to be patient and grateful with humility, all innate Hawaiian traits that I didn’t know I had. Meanwhile, I prepared to share the news with my brothers Jeff and Mike. This was big for me. Without my brothers on board and the risk of hurting their feelings, it would sour the celebration and may collapse the relationships between us.

As it turned out, everyone was in joyful disbelief. Margaret and I got busy making arrangements to meet on common ground - Las Vegas! I quickly learned that’s where those who live in paradise go on vacation. Thirty days after our first phone call, on Independence Day weekend, I embraced my birth parents and my sister, Minei, and her husband, Shannon, who also made the trip. The fulfillment that I began to experience from that day on is indescribable. Jill-Ann and I were invited to a Luau in my honor at the home of my parents the following September. There I was draped in Hawaiian lei’s and ate food that would make me sing and dance with cousin’s, auntie’s, and uncle’s! At this point, I was either being re-born in paradise or I had died and gone to heaven. But, there would be more to this buried treasure……… Jill-Ann and I were event coordinators at the time and, after being engaged for over two years, were trying to find the time to plan the ultimate event, our wedding. It boiled down to Boston (Jill-Ann’s hometown), Florida, or now even Hawaii. We decided on Vegas. And we both agreed it would be a “family affair”. (Don’t try this at home) Our wedding in Vegas would be the backdrop to an Italian, Hawaiian, and Irish family reunion, of sorts. I attempted to prepare the Rossi family for a room full of people who looked just like me!! The Kalima’s were a mighty bunch. Here, two-dozen Rossi’s would embrace two dozen Kalima’s for the first time with joyful tears. Emotions were high throughout the evening. And as I tried to take it all in, my father George put it best, “Leave it to Terrance, not to have just one family that loves him but, to go out and find another.”

Genealogy - Author Unknown

Author Unknown

Genealogy begins as an interest,
Becomes a hobby;
Continues as an avocation,
Takes over as an obsession,
And in its last stages,
Is an incurable disease.

What If? by Mary McIntosh

“What If?”
Mary McIntosh
St. Petersburg, FL When my story, "The Newfangled Device" was published in 2001 on the web site, little did I realize what a far-reaching effect it would have on my life! It told of how I learned to love the computer by one day latching onto a search engine and discovering Kirkby Lonsdale, the small town in northern England where I spent my summers as a very young child. Three years later that same story led me to find the house where my mother was born in 1884. This is my story of serendipity.
"Memories of Kirkby Lonsdale," was the subject on the e-mail displayed on my monitor that day in 2003. A man in England had written, asking if I wanted to share any more memories with him. He was re-opening the pub in a small hotel, and living in Kirkby Lonsdale, the village where I'd spent my summers as a child. James and I started sending e-mails to each other. Many of his descriptions were the same as those I'd written in my article, and it was fun to be in touch with someone who was walking down those same streets. He sent me a picture of himself, seated on the wall outside the building where my grandmother lived.

Then one day he asked the question, "Would it be possible for you to take one more nostalgic trip back to England?" With just those few words I embarked on an experience so simple, yet so profound, that it became a beautiful and inspiring journey into my past.I was now in my 80s and traveling had become difficult for me, but I felt I could manage the trip if someone was there to help me. James offered to meet me in London and we'd drive to the Lake District. It sounded so good, but what did I really know about this man? He was in his early 40s, he told me, lived in Blackpool, but I knew little else. Should I go, and hope for the best? Was I being a foolish old woman? What if I got to London and he wasn't there? Then what would I do? What if he turned out to be the kind of man that preyed on older women? Maybe he thought I was rich because I was from America. What if I went and we didn't like each other? What should I do? I really wanted to go, for besides re-visiting Kirkby, I'd always had a great desire to see if I could find the house my mother was born in. When in her 70s, she'd painted a watercolor of it from memory, which I inherited upon her death. I knew she was born in Middleton, near Kirkby Lonsdale. If I went, maybe James would drive me there.I swayed back and forth -- yes, I'll go; no, I shouldn't take the chance. Finally the decision was made easier for me when my daughter, Heather, told me she planned on running the marathon in London in April, and would stay on and join me on my trip back to my beginnings. At least if things didn't work out, we'd be traveling together. And so, in April 2004, at the age of 83, I returned once again to the land of my birth. My daughter ran the marathon. I arrived at Heathrow. She and James met me. James turned out to be a delightful young man, and was agreeable to anything I wanted to do.My mother's father died when she was nine, and my grandmother was left with five children. She needed an income, and in the late 1890’s, jobs for women were not that plentiful. Luckily, she was able to procure the position of caretaker of the Institute, a building used for meetings, receptions, and such in the town of Kirkby Lonsdale. This is where the family lived, where I spent my summers as a young child, and where James, Heather and I were headed.James had kindly arranged with the present caretaker of the Institute for us to actually go inside so I could look around. It was still used for meetings, but no longer had sleeping arrangements. I did notice the kitchen had been enlarged, and electricity installed, though we saw several gas jets still on the walls. The large fireplace remained, and I remembered how we children had taken our Saturday night baths in a large galvanized tub in front of it. Then, we walked out the kitchen door. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The four outhouses, the only facilities for our use, were still standing. Told they were now used for storage, my daughter swore they still had a certain aroma about them.The town had changed little from those pictures that appeared along with my story. Now bustling with autos, it still retained the old-fashioned charm of the horse and buggy days, as I had remembered them. We were there on a Thursday and, just as I recalled it as a child, the market place was bustling with stalls of produce the local farmers had brought in to sell. Then we walked into St. Mary's Church for a few moments, the church were my parents were married.I enjoyed my re-visit to Kirkby, but now I needed to find my mother's place of birth. The next day James drove us to Middleton, the neighboring town. It is difficult to know what to call Middleton. It is hardly even a village, for there are only 300 people living there, mostly sheep farmers. There is no school, no shops, no petrol station, but there is a church. We stopped there first.My great-grandfather had been the Vicar of this little country church, which we found open, and discovered his name on a wall. Dark inside, the church probably held no more than fifty people. In my grandparents' days it would have been the focal point of the community, with the Vicar living nearby. Now, we were told, an itinerant minister visits each Sunday. Outside, on a lovely English spring day, with wild daffodils growing abundantly, we walked around the churchyard. Many of the gravestones were so old they had toppled over onto the ground. Those covered with moss were difficult to read. We did find my great-grandfather's grave, and close by, the grave of my grandmother, as well as of the grandfather I never knew.Now it was time to search for the house, though I had no idea whether or not it still existed, as the family left in 1893. My daughter kept snapping photos. "That one looks like the painting," she'd say, but I was never sure. Several of them were either too small, or much larger than the picture my mother had painted. We did find the old vicarage where a farmer and his family now live. They allowed me to stand in an open doorway to the house, and have a picture taken. This is where my great-grandfather lived, and I'm sure Mother must have visited many times. At first I thought this might be the one, but I didn't recall Mother ever telling me she'd lived at the vicarage. I was getting a bit discouraged.
"We'd better be heading back." James said. "I'd like to get home before it gets dark."I knew we had to leave, and I'd just about decided her house was no longer there, when Heather exclaimed, "Mom, look at that one across the road. That might be it." I wasn't too convinced, but when we got home, and the photo was developed, and we looked at the two of them together, we knew they were the same. My mother's painting, and an enlarged framed photo are identical--the doorways, the chimneys, the curve of the road. Even some of the shrubbery looked alike, though the sensible side of my brain knew this was highly unlikely. Then called Rose Cottage, it is now The Swan Inn.The trip turned out to be very joyous and emotional. I never thought I'd ever be able to visit England again. And seeing the place where I'd spent much of my childhood was wonderful. But the highlight, discovering my mother's home at almost the very last minute before we had to leave, was serendipityAnd so I ponder. What if I'd never written that piece? What if it hadn't appeared on the Internet? What if James hadn't read it? What if I hadn't been brave enough to travel again, and rely on a stranger to take care of me? What if…?

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