Friday, October 28, 2016

The long lost uncle and a tiny travel journal

This past week a long lost uncle from Australia came for a visit.

My uncle is my father's brother. I do not have a relationship with my father. I haven't seen him since I was about 16, and we had a single email exchange about 13 years ago. Until last year, I hadn't seen my uncle in about 35 years.

We reconnected on the internet through an ancestry message board. One connection led to another and he soon discovered that he had many old faraway friends. It was enough to prompt a visit from halfway around the world.

Our first visit lasted about two days. It took place in a house crowded with people, me run ragged taking care of cooking and cleaning and hostessing. It really wasn't much of a visit at all. More of an introduction.

He decided on a return, this time determined to have a proper visit. A full week with a practical stranger.

It's a very weird situation. I very nearly had a panic attack before his arrival. It's frightening... and exciting at the same time.

But it was great. We joked, and laughed and touched on some difficult topics. We discovered things we have in common. We even managed some 'firsts' like jack-o-lantern carving!

To send him on his way I made a tiny album/diary filled with the inside jokes, the misadventures and memories of our shared visit.

I won't share it all, most of it is rather silly anecdotes, but I will share this memory with you...

Together, goofing around in an old school photo booth, in a cafe, after a terribly anti-climatic visit to a lighthouse and looking at a disappointing dead salmon on the beach.

It sort of sums up the whole experience really.

Surreal, weird... but a lot of fun.


  1. Ya know it's cool you were able to connect with a part of your family that's been missing. I'm sure he's happy to have your part back in his life as well. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Good for both of you. When my mom passed away, I lost my entire family, they just faded away. That was almost 13 years ago. It's sorta weird, but at 67, I feel like I'm adrift except for my grands and my Shelley. How special that the two of you got to "meet again".

  3. What a wonderful experience. Other than my mother and sister, I am not in contact with any of my family - and haven't been for about 40 years. Not out of anger or anything - just drifted apart. We don't even send holiday cards to each other any longer. You're fortunate to have made contact with a close relative like an uncle! And he looks like he's up for 'whatever!'

  4. Nichola, I have been following your antics with uncle Bob on FB and I must say, you all seemed to have hit it off splendidly!
    Estranged family for whatever reasons,is difficult. Being that I am not alone in this, makes me sad and happy at the same.Seeing others reconnect or connect and make some new ties warms my heart so. And just now reading that Uncle Bob,traveled such distance to be part of your lives, well, I must say,my laptop is now wet and i must go dry it before I get electrocuted!
    My best to you all xx

  5. This brought me to tears. It's beautiful that the two of you were open to reconnecting and both made such an effort. It is, after all, all about love. And so thoughtful and beautiful, the memento you made for him. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I was given the gift of another 1/2 brother that I never knew I had and he lives in Belgium. My father was there during the war and fell in love and well the rest is history. I now have family in Antwerp and met my brother John in 2008! He looks so much like our father that I just balled. It was the most amazing visit, so I can imagine how you feel with your long lost uncle. ENJOY for life is really too short. :) SO very happy for you both!

  7. it sounds like you had a wonderful time, Im glad it worked out for both of is everything


  8. How wonderful that you were able to connect with your uncle. I hope the relationship lasts.
    I love that you made that little memory book for him. That's wonderful!
    diane @ thoughts&shots

  9. CONGRATULATIONS! One more difficult bridge in life crossed...and done with such aplomb and dignity. Kudos!!!! <3

  10. What a lovely tale. . . I truly admire you Nichola. . .I had an old relative contact me recently, an uncle. . . dad's brother. . . and though I had a good relationship with my father the last 10 years of his life (he died about 8 years ago), I do not feel obligated to reach out to my uncle who I have not spoken with in over 30 years. But maybe in time, who knows. . . my way has always been to leave the past alone where it is . . . it's just ghosts. . . but your story is a fresh perspective on it all too.