Friday, June 22, 2018

First chapter of my memoir - by Carol Ford

 I considered making this piece a prologue in my book, but I feel that readers often skip prologues. I would welcome your feedback on this approach to my memoir. Chapter 2 will take the reader back 46 years leading up to the following event in 1994.

Chapter 1

When they drove away, I experienced a renewed feeling of separation and abandonment.

The intensity of my emotions shocked and alarmed me.  I sobbed.

Neighbours, who saw my husband, boys and I waving goodbye to this man and women, would never have suspected the drama that had just unfolded in our lives.

Less than a week prior, my sixteen-year old son and I had driven to another city to search for information about my birth family, and I was unaware of the flurry of phone calls that happened because of our inquiries.

One of those calls came to me late on the Sunday night.
 “Is this Carol?”
I hesitated, “Yes.”
“This is your sister Joan”
I heard screaming in the back ground, “Mom, it’s just like TV—it’s really her!”
The rest of that phone call was a blur, but I knew I had just experienced one of my life moments.

After we hung up, Joan contacted our brother Glenn. She called back to see if we could meet  at my home in two days.  It was all happening so fast!

The morning of their visit I’d dithered about trying to decide how to entertain them. Should I make sandwiches, or finger food, or desert—what do they like? What do I serve to family members I have never met? 

Friends called on the phone that day and offered prayer support.  One brought a bouquet of roses to my door for the celebration.  So many people wanted to witness the reunion, but we chose to keep it private.

Nerves were taut as we waited for their arrival, and I jumped when the knock came.

My boys, husband and I opened the door to a tall handsome, well-dressed man with a full head of salt and pepper grey hair.  He filled the whole doorframe.  This was my brother, Glenn.  I immediately noticed his bright blue eyes, a similar feature to mine.  My sister, Joan, entered behind him. She looked like a woman who had weathered many of life’s storms. She was out of breath and using a cane. I took her hand and helped her manoeuvre the front step. A strong smell of cigarette smoke expired as she talked. When I peered into her face, I was struck again by traces of familial features.

“Please come in,” I managed to say.  “This is my husband, Allan, and these are my two sons, Doug and Mike.” 

How strange to be making these introductions between family members.

“Let’s go to the kitchen where we can sit and talk.”  I said.

We walked down the hall together.   Once we were seated at the table, my sister scrutinized my face.  In fact, we were all intently observing each other—looking for signs of resemblance. 

“Look at her, Glenn, she looks so much like Grandma Kemp,” my sister immediately remarked. She said this in a tone of admiration and love.

My husband had a white gauze bandage wrapped around his head that day.  We all joked about his biking accident the evening before.  He told the funny story of the doctor’s visit when he had admitted to not wearing a biking helmet.   This seemed to break the ice.  I quickly noticed Glenn’s wit and humour. He teased Allan about living with an abusive spouse.  We all laughed.  My boys hung back in the doorway while they watched the adults connecting. What were they thinking? These were their flesh and blood aunt and uncle.

Joan did most of the talking that day, while Glenn quietly observed and listened. He interjected funny quips here and there which I sensed was his way of coping with the emotional tension of the event.

Joan and Glenn had always known about me, but I only knew they existed a year ago.  I read excerpts from the ‘non-identifiable information’ provided by the Children’s Aid Society.    Joan kept correcting the dates and facts that had been recorded—her memory was remarkable. She spoke with authority and accuracy and was a little intimidating. It was evident that our personalities were similar; we were all outgoing, take-charge kind of people—no shrinking violets in the bunch! Our sense of humour was also similar and we laughed and joked a lot that afternoon. 

When the afternoon drew to an end, I gave them each a framed picture of my little family to take home to their spouses and children.  Glenn told me that he would host a BBQ later in the summer to introduce us to my extended family members.

I could see that Joan and Glenn deeply loved and respected each other; they were siblings. I had been brought up an only child and didn’t understand this type of relationship.  Was there room in their lives for me? I was acutely aware of the missing years and our life together. 

Chapter 2

I welcome your comments. You will find more information about me at

I have several recorded broadcasts on Careers and Worklife on Hope Stream Radio - Life Under The Sun

If you are a writer or speaker, you might like this devotional:

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

Carol, Thank you for sharing this wonderful, rather episodic meeting in your life! I think that this approach could well serve as a prologue. However, I take your point that readers often skip prologues, and so I reckon that in this case they'd be missing out if they were to skip it. As a chapter it's brief (probably a positive thing), and opens the door just wide enough to invite an inquiring reader to venture in. ~~+~~

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