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I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Tears, teas and family trees

It started in Montana. The parents: a young British couple, making the endless trek way back in the late 1800s to midwest America, in search of prosperity from the mines.

One of the children born there, in 1892 was our grandma, Carrie. But her mum Annie and her siblings returned to the UK some time later, alone.

Fast forward to wartime London. Air raid sirens. Hiding in the shelter. The Blitz. Some of Carrie`s nine children being packed off to the country as evacuees, with their gas masks and ration books.

And to now. Just two of the nine remain. And at each funeral, like the special woodland burial for Joan yesterday, we gather and regroup, to say goodbye and to celebrate a life, taking comfort from each other. A ready made crowd: spouses and partners of those we`ve lost, and my generation, the cousins: more than twenty of us, some greying now; some resolutely not ; several reaching for reading glasses when it`s time for the next hymn; others singing from memory; defiantly spec-free. We`re there with our own children now; some, parents themselves: a new layer learning about the importance of family; keeping in touch, and being there for each other.

So,we hug, and weep a bit, and remember the family times we had together at Grandma`s house in Willesden Green; the practical jokes we played on each other; our fascination at being allowed to peep inside the mahogany, paper lined glove drawers at `Mildred Trimms`, the haberdashery shop Grandma used to work at, round the corner.

We`re scattered across three continents now. But the bond between us is strong. As we strolled back from the burial for tea yesterday, we mused glumly, for a moment, about what a sad year it had been for funerals--how hard it was to even try to recover from one, before we were back in black again.

Inevitably, we reasoned, the bigger the family, the more frequent the farewells will be. That`s the price you pay. But the bigger the family,the more plentiful the hugs will be too; and the stronger the support when it`s needed. There`s a ready made network of people you know you can, in a heartbeat, call on. Way more precious than anything you could mine in mid-west Montana, way back when. And much, much closer to home.

PS: When you lose someone, it`s not only sad, it`s a lost link to the past. And you realise that if you`re tracing your family history, the clock`s ticking a little faster.     Our family FB group`s been
buzzing since yesterday,many of us determined to find out more about our Montana connections before it`s too late.Who do we think we are? Not sure but tales are emerging of a Sheriff`s badge somewhere and the odd bar room brawl! Ever traced your family history? How did you get on? And is it time for `Who Do You Think You Are` to focus more on the `ordinary people`? Let me know what you think! 

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