Sunday, September 20, 2015

Bridging the Gap

Sunny Afternoon - Karen's garden
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

There are 7,6165 km (4,734.741 miles) between the city of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada and Tring, Hertfordshire, UK. No matter the technology and tools at our grasp, it's a long distance. 

This is the distance I have travelled to reach the home of my cousin with whom I have felt a closeness beyond description for most of my adult life. There are so many miles but only a few years in age between Karen and I. We grew up in the same era but in a completely different area of the globe.

My cousin, Karen, at Waddesdon Manor
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

I have come back on a kind of pilgrimage, to retrace the steps of my family, to reconnect with my beloved cousin, to walk the path of my ancestors and, perhaps, to gain an understanding of what I hold as nature and what of nurture in my make up. 

My cousin and I are daughters of sisters. One sister, Marjorie, remained in England with her husband, Edward, and raised her two children, my cousins, Nick and Karen. One sister, my mother, Eunice, emigrated to Canada with her husband, Brian after having two of their children, my brothers, Chris and Bruce, in England. My parents moved to Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada and had my youngest brother, Philip, in 1960. They moved back to England when Philip was still a babe in arms. When Phil was about a year old, they came to Canada again on the ocean liner, The Empress of Canada. Six months later, my mum gave birth to me, the fourth and last child, who was made in England and born in Canada. 

During my childhood, we travelled back to England several times - my parents having their parents and siblings here and the parent company of the business they eventually opened in Richmond Hill. We have always remained connected to this land. 

My mum's ashes are here, at Harrow on the Hill. See my article on my mum and F/O. Richard N. Foster, to gain insight into part of the reason I came back to England now. I want to further explore who my mum was before she was my mum - when she was stationed at Biggin Hill Fighter Station during the Second World War. I want to stand where she stood, to walk in her footsteps. My grandma and my Auntie Marjorie were laid to rest here.

The Church Spire at Harrow on the Hill
Dated 1047
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

Part of my heart and soul are here, in the air, the soil and the people of this land. This is my first time back here in 32 years - since we brought my mum's ashes back from Canada. Like I said, it's a long way from my Victoria home. 

I'm sure this is all more than enough family history for you. What I really want to touch on is that despite the discomforts that travel unto itself can bring (right now my back is exploding in pain spasms) and the difficulty in adjusting to a new place - the differences in water, jet lag and ways of being and doing, there is greater comfort in being here with my cousin, Karen. I have longed for years to be back with my blood, my kin. There is nothing that can take the place of this relationship in my life. She and her daughter, Tess, are the only other women in my direct family line with whom I have an attachment. My cousin, Nick, has two daughters but I have not seen them since they were tiny. 

It means so much to me to be here and that Karen has welcomed me into her home. We are already saying the same thing at the same time. We eat the same types of foods. We are both strong advocates for human rights. We are different from each other as well. She knows more about our family history on the Jay side and I have this wonderful opportunity to learn from her. She is incredibly strong - physically and intellectually, with a phenomenal and admirable emotional intelligence. She has shown an enormous capacity to deal with difficult situations. I love her to the moon and back and admire her for all she has done in her life and for all she teaches me through the example of her life.
 My temporary home - Wigginton, near Tring
Gillian Cornwall, c. September 2015

I am grateful to be here, to have created this opportunity to walk in the path of my ancestors. There is so much to do and so many kind people who are inviting me into their lives and homes here. I wish I had the strength, ability and time to do it all! 

If there is something like this in your life that you have wanted to do, then do your best to find a way. I set aside a bit of money every month. I sold things I no longer needed nor wanted - books, jewelry, collectibles. I went into a bit more debt because I thought, if not now, then when? Also, I know I am privileged to take this journey. I am getting older and my body is weaker (trying to make it stronger!). We have this life and these people. Every day is a gift of possibility. Embrace it. Do what you can and go after your dreams and desires. 

I am so happy to be here in the midst of this adventure with the most beautiful woman - learning, growing, laughing and sharing with incredible people. 

This is The Art of Life.

-Gillian Cornwall, c. September 20, 2015

Me - Waddesdon Manor
Photo Credit - Karen Jay, c. September 2015


Boo said...

Thank you so much for sharing your journey to England. Your happiness bubbles off the screen and I know how much this trip means to you, having talked about it for so many years. You are an inspiration and perhaps I will yet get to return to England and Wales. Sending love XO

PC Hi Def Media Productions said...

Wonderful, sis. Loved reading this. I've been in a melancholy and emotional space since you've gone on this trip and reading this just now has flavoured it just right. Love you. Phil

Diane Scurr said...

Dear Gillian, thank you for sharing your thoughts. You are an inspiration and it was a joy to meet you. I do hope our paths cross again. Namaste. Diane

Gillian said...

Much love to you Alberta. I know you will find a way back here if it is your dream!

Gillian said...

Hi Phil, it is an emotional experience - everyday seems to unearth something different for me. I hope you too will make it back here one day! Love you too.

Gillian said...

Thank you, Diane. It was such a pleasure to meet you. You have a beautiful energy about you. In peace and joy, Gillian