On Sunday I met with my father's cousin, my first cousin once removed. (Thanks to a handy table provided by a genealogist tracing my mother's family when a distant relative died without a will, I have finally grasped the subtleties of first and second cousins and how removed they are.)
He lives in a small town about half-an-hour's drive away and I discovered him through my great-aunt, whom I also met for the first time this year, who has a keen interest in family history. I was treated to a 'proper tea' with sandwiches, scones and cake which made me feel very special and I enjoyed a pleasant hour looking at his old family photos and showing some that I have recently discovered. He grew up on the same village street as my father and attended the same secondary school and I have a couple of photos of them together, along with another brother, clearly much more interested in going off to play than in posing for the camera. What touched me deeply was how very similar these two men are, both in striking physical resemblance and also in mannerism and speech and it was as if I was with an alternative version of my father. I realise that I, too, am part of this family line, mixed up with another, and wonder what I have inherited, genetically and culturally. How deep our family ties go and how precious it is to know something of where we have come from.