Tuesday, January 05, 2016
Fiction and stranger than that
Look: a little vase of polyanthus from the garden. It's spring! (A bit of wishful thinking, possibly.)
Something rather strange happened on Hogmanay (New Year's Eve). Well, firstly, the night before, Mr Life, Daughter 2 and I watched the film "Sunshine on Leith" on television. (That wasn't the strange thing.) It was slightly toe-curlingly Scottish - not sure why my toes should thus curl but they did a bit, probably just imagining what other, non-Scots people would think of the rather thick accents. However, there are lovely views of Edinburgh in the film and I loved the closing scene.
It's a story about a daughter appearing in her father's life - the product of a fling shortly after he got married. Predictably, this somewhat disrupts his current family life with his wife, son and daughter. It's interspersed with songs by The Proclaimers, a Scottish band. After the film, we briefly discussed how strange it would be if a similar daughter appeared out of the blue claiming that Mr L was her dad. (This didn't happen. That would have been strange. I've known Mr L for a long time.)
The next day, Daughter 2 met a schoolfriend for coffee and heard that something very similar had just happened to her: an unknown half-brother had been in touch, the product of a relationship that her (now dead) father had had before he met his wife. So - no element of faithlessness in this story - but it was a coincidence, right after our conversations of the night before. And it was a shock for the family.
Later that day, the three of us went to friends' to see in the New Year with lots of other friends. I got talking to someone I've known more or less all my life and she mentioned that her husband (whom I've known for almost as long) had discovered only when he was forty (he's now in his mid-sixties) that he was adopted. His adoptive father had died some years before and when his adoptive mother died, our friend was going through papers looking for the necessary paperwork to register her death, and found his adoption certificate. Not an unheard-of situation; but as you can imagine, he was hugely upset.
The very strange thing is that I knew, years before, that he was adopted. My mother had mentioned it in passing; I thought nothing particularly about it but did remember it. I - and he - must have been twentyish at the time. I never mentioned it to anyone else because I wasn't sure that it was common knowledge. But I had no idea that even he didn't know.
He has since met up with his birth mother's later daughter and her family, though his mother had died by that time.
How did my mother know? I haven't a clue. We all lived in the same suburb and knew lots of the same people. Some of our friend's extended family evidently knew but had been sworn to secrecy, but of them, my mother knew only one aunt and I can't imagine her telling my mother; they weren't close. And our friend didn't live in the district till he was nine, so Mum couldn't have observed the change from no-baby to baby.
Stranger than fiction, isn't it? In fiction, however, there would be an answer. Mum died three and a half years ago and there's no one to ask.
Heartwarmingly, in all cases (including the film) the new siblings were welcomed into the families after the initial consternation and the outcomes have been happy.