Almost 2 years ago I received an email from my cousin Sue in England (yes, there are two of us, "Susan" was apparently a very popular name for girls in the '60's and '70's it appears). Together with her sister (my cousin Linda), they are researching our family's genealogy. I've tried to help fill in a few blanks, point them in the direction of other family members still living in England and provide a little history about our mutual grandparents.
Progress has been slow due to having to send off for birth/marriage/death certificates, lack of records and several ruddy big rifts in the family. We know precious little about my grandad's side of the family - they were from Wales and very little more about grandma - she was from Newcastle-on-Tyne.
The only "plus" side perse is that my grandma still has family living in or near our old home town. Thanks to the aforementioned "rifts" however we were unsure as to how or whether to contact the family (second cousins etc) living in town, How would we be received? Many years have passed - almost three decades - since our respective families had their falling out. My cousins and I were innocent children aged 12-16 years of age, but our parent's feud with family members has continued into our own adulthood, even though the primary individuals involved have all long since died. We didn't know if we would receive a frosty reception or if time had in fact healed all.
I have offered to write to the family from the safety of this side of the Atlantic, on behalf of my cousins, my reasoning being that they are hardly likely to show up on my doorstep. But instead fate stepped in, and just a few short weeks ago, cousin Sue happened to be searching on a website and searching under my grandmother's sister's name and she came across another family member who was also searching. [gawd, isn't the internet wonderful?] A second, third or fourth cousin, 20 times removed - who knows? I haven't quite figured it all out yet.
Emails are still being exchanged, as we all tread very carefully, but so far I think curiosity over this "dark side" of the family has won over harbouring any old grudges. We will see how it proceeds.
My "doorstep theory" has been blown out of the water however, Tom's first email to me began..."Are you in Canada? Can we come out for a holiday?" Arghhhh!