The Secret Wish

My dear, sweet Grandmother lived until 102 years of age (1904-2006).  She witnessed the most incredible changes in the history of mankind:   she was born in the horse-and-buggy day where most people still lived on farms with no electricity or indoor plumbing and used hand tools.  She saw the introduction of the automobile in the early 1900s followed by airplanes in the skies…….. and watched a man walk on the moon in 1969.   She bore witness to 2 World Wars.  My Gramma lived when electricity was discovered and distributed to homes across North America!  She raised a large family through the Great Depression.   My Grandmother watched the revolution of television followed by home computers and the internet (even though she never had a computer).  She gave birth to a large family in an old farmhouse with no modern conveniences.  My Grandmother was an amazing woman – my cousin Marc describes it best “Her door was always open, they were not rich, but there was always a pot of barley soup on the stove. She raised her own 11 children and many grandchildren and even great children were always at the farm.” Whew!  What a time in history to have lived!

my Grandparents

my Grandparents

I knew her for my entire life but I had no idea that she harboured a personal secret wish:  to simply find her long lost sister Alberta (‘Bertie’).   Alberta had moved to the United States to work when she grew up in the 1920’s and my Gramma kept in contact with her until the 1960s.  Alberta had two children, Frederick and Lloyd and had two husbands.  Then they lost touch.   Recently I discovered that, when she was 100 years old, my Gramma told her daughter that she wished she could find out about her sister ‘Bertie’:  “the best gift I could ever have would be to find out where ‘Bertie’ was, if she was dead or alive or her last known address.  I know it is in Norfolk” (VA, U.S)…….. Sadly, we were never able to fulfil her secret wish before she died.

Our family history reports that my Grandmother had 7 or 8 siblings but I never really thought about whatever happened to them.  I met her brother Kermit and her sister Gladys because they lived down home in the same town as my Grandmother  (a.k.a. ‘Mom’ as we affectionately called her).  I feel guilty now for never inquiring about her siblings and parents…..    My Grandmother’s parents, William and  Ellen,  moved back to New Carlisle, Quebec on the Gaspe from Shirley, Massachusetts in the U.S. when my Gramma and her sister Bertie were just babies in the early 1900s.  They cleared the land and built a home where they raised their family.  The foundation of that century homestead still exists.  Our family historian, Auntie Mary says that when her mother was a teenager, her and Bertie moved to New Brunswick to work.  Then Mom’s Uncle John and Aunt May brought Bertie back to the U.S. with them to work.  My Gramma moved back home where she married and lived for the rest of her life.

1930s Only picture of my great-grandmother

1930s Only picture of my great-grandmother, back left

When technology and computers were developed, my Gramma often wondered where Bertie was and said she’d love to find her again.  But it was not to be during her time on this earth.   Then, a few years ago, my cousin Marc was playing around with a free trial of Ancestry.ca and my Auntie Mary wondered if he could “find Mom’s sister on that thing?”  They typed in Alberta’s name, her birthday, and the names of her two husbands and incredibly, her name popped up in someone else’s family tree!  My cousin sent a message to the person who entered the family tree information and it turns out HE was Bertie’s son!  Marc wrote to him saying It is hard to believe that my grandmother searched half her lifetime and even on her deathbed and we have finally found you and your family”.  Now our family has been reunited once again.  My dear sweet Grandmother who spent her life giving, has once again given us another gift of dozens more family members by her simple, solitary secret wish.  I can’t wait to get to know my new cousins and even meet them some day – we share the same great-grandparents.

My Aunt Mary said it best:  “it’s never too late….. better late than never”.

3 Generations - early '70s

3 Generations – early ’70s

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bruce
    Nov 12, 2013 @ 12:55:40

    That’s a interesting piece of family history that I was unaware of. Thanks so much Linda.

    Reply

  2. Betty
    Nov 12, 2013 @ 20:49:33

    I also had no idea that “Mom” was searching for her long-lost sister… I met most of her siblings while growing up… but this is just an amazing piece of information!!

    I’ve just been reading about this on the new family connection site on Facebook!!… Soooo… very interesting… AND Mom’s sister Alberta’s name was MARY ALBERTA!!.. So now I know how and why my Aunt Mary was named Mary!!… and also why my Aunt Alberta was named Alberta!!!… and I bet most of my relatives out there don’t know that my REAL NAME is MARY Elizabeth!!… and that BETTY is just my nickname!! I guess I was named after my aunt AND my great aunt!!!…

    I’m sure there’s more to come… and I too would LOVE to meet our new relatives some day!!… What a fantastic story for everyone!!!

    Love Bet… xo

    Reply

  3. df
    Nov 19, 2013 @ 20:51:19

    I can’t even begin to fathom 102 years on this planet; the changes witnessed would have been enormous. Lovely story about connecting with lost family – you’re right, it’s never too late.

    Reply

  4. Stacey
    Nov 29, 2013 @ 11:44:23

    Great piece Linda. Mom was such a positive influence to all of us and we are so blessed to have had her for as long as we did. Dad’s middle name was Clinton and I always wondered where the heck Mom got that one.. now i know why. Aunt Bertie was never far from her heart even though she was far geographically.
    xxoo

    Reply

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