Sunday, 7 December 2008


Well, I dunno how many sisters would fly from California to Amsterdam to Bristol, arrive Friday 12.45 lunchtime, and leave 3 AM Sunday morning, to fly back...but then its not every day you get to meet a full sister for the first time, with both of us aged over fifty...
But MINE did! Not that you'd know we were sisters or anything. We don't even look similar, ...

well, maybe just a wee bit similar?!

Seriously, I have just had the most extraordinary weekend, meeting Susie from San Jose in California who posts on here as 'Doris'.(Why Doris? gawd knows. Husband's nickname for her, I think, just as mine calls me they do.)

I waited at Bristol Airport, feeling nervous. And I saw myself coming out of the arrivals hall. Sort of. Of course, there are differences, like Susie is sister number three of five, and is therefore a few years younger than moi. But hey. Lucky thing. She was able to see how she'd age!

There was lots of laughter, lots of talking. Susie took Chris and I to Fitzhead, near Taunton, where Anne was waiting for us. Anne is simply great. Susie had come over partly to make sure Anne was OK meeting this extra step daughter who had appeared out of the blue...I guess she IS sort of my step-mother, or something. She has a black lab called Wren, so she MUST be OK!

Me, Anne, Susie, Wren.

It was very poignant being in Anne's house, knowing this was where my father had lived for years. Seeing his study. His room, the views from his bedroom window. He must have gazed at that so many many times. Susie and I spent a long time going through a suitcase full of photos. Pics of all of them when they were tiny. My father. My mother. It was quite tough. I have them all, will keep just a few, and then I will be going up to see Pill, the other lovely sister I met earlier this autumn, to hand over the case.

Reminder: Pill and I, October.

On top of a cupboard there was a collection of 'stones'. It turned out to be a collection of fossils my father had found years ago, and he'd sent them to be identified. There was also a comprehensive document painstakingly identifying everything. Ammonites, fossilised sea urchins... Funny thing is, my house is full of pebbles, stones, fossils. So when Anne asked if I'd like them, I was very moved. And said 'yes please...'

The sea urchin will join my prize 'find'. A similar one I found on the chalk Downs near Lewes. Funny old world.

Anne's hospitality was so lovely. Supper, then lunch, then supper... I felt so at home. Also met my Aunt Daphne. A grand lady... I was hoarse after bellowing for ages... apparently you could hear us right down the lift shaft in her flats. (She is quite deaf!)

Eeeeh. I am now emotionally exhausted.

(where it started... a while back.)


lifemodel said...

Oh Vanessa I am so pleased for you that all this is happening, I know how empty and lost you felt before - quietly, underneath the lovely family you made for yourself. So many sisters! (Now there's a good title for someone...)

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Hi Jo

Yep, it is really lovely, all this.

I know where I came from. Without that, I was always a bit at sea. Now that feeling has gone.

And yes, So Many Sisters... it has a ring to it!

Tania Hershman said...

Wow, the two of you look so alike, and so delighted to be meeting. How wodnerful and moving, and about the stones too. Fantastic, thank you for sharing it with us.

SueG said...

What great photos, and what a fantastic experience! I'm so happy for you.

Douglas Bruton said...

Thank you for sharing this adventure, Vanessa - and it is an adventure... I am so happy for you... and happy too that your family has you... what a story... and happy beginnings. I love the stones... it's like a connection... bedded in rock and so in the foundation of everything.

Best wishes


Sara said...

Vanessa, how amazing, and lovely, and strange and heart warming and sad and happy all at once. Gosh. Best wishes to you and Doris and Pill and all...

Elizabeth Baines said...

All I can say, Vanessa, is... Wow.

Alex Keegan said...

Thinking back about all this, so gld it finally worked out.


Vanessa Gebbie said...

Hi T

It is indeed wodnerful!

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Hi Sue
certainly all this is extraordinary. Wonderful, and a real gift.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Hello D
Yes the stones are weird... but then again, the whole thing is a wee bitty strange. (Did you hear the Scots creeping in then, just to be friendly??!)

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Hi Sara, spot on. I am pulled in so mnay direction emotionally, it's hard to know what I feel. Its a blur. Happy of course... and lots of sad bits as well.

I have this need to hug my sons.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Hi Elizabeth

I will briing some piccies up on Friday, to the Salt party.


Vanessa Gebbie said...

Hi A

a roller coaster.

but as I said right at the start, finding the family was the end of the journey.

If the 'girls' and I end up friends, thats great. If not... its been a good journey anyway.

Nik's Blog said...

I've said it before, V, and I'll say it again: wow! Just wonderful - and you DO look so alike!
Bloody wow!

Nik X

doris said...

I'm back!
So I've seen two sunrises and one sunset in my last 15 hours - cool! I've also been in 18 time zones since Thursday afternoon, so I've travelled a third of the way around this planet, just for YOU!!
It was so amazing to meet you/me at long last, and I absolutely love you to bits. Are we similar or what? Chris is fabulous, can't wait for next time.....
Love Susie

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Hi Nik, bloody marvellous, tis!

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Well, Doris.

All I can say is... well, Doris. How amazing, huh? It was SO strange to see someone who looks SO like me, as I said to you!. I kept doing double-takes. Especially profile... sorry to bang on about it. Its such a novelty for me!

Im glad you got back safe and sound. THANK YOU for being such a daft and lovely person. I am one lucky lady.


martin said...

This is fantastic, Vanessa - truly amazing. The connections you're making right now must be mind blowing. I'm so pleased for you that you sent that letter those months ago!

And congratulations to you too, Doris. That was some trip you just went on.

Odd thing. This weekend must have been particularly apt for family reunions. We took our 2 year old to meet his older siblings for the first time on Saturday. It was quite incredible seeing them together, the similarities in look, habits, inflections, in spite of never having met. And knowing what they'd all been through, the reasons they were taken into care, yet there they were just playing along, doing what kids do.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Golly, martin. Odd thing, indeed. I am so pleased for your little guy. Give him a hug from some old bat called Auntie Nessie.

I wonder what birth sign he is??

martin said...

Hug from strange Auntie Nessie duly pocketed. Thanks. Will deliver when I get back from work!

Carl's an aquarius.

Fabius said...

greetings from the big apple,
there are no words
pill is happy , susie is happy , vanessa is happy
ergo charlie is happy xox.

Vanessa Gebbie said...


without whom this wouldn't have happened.

Thanx, Baby sis!

Fabius said...

rock on i say.
did u know i was watching tv and saw a commercial for that website , God Bless their marketing department or advertising agency ! there was I enrobed in all my finest channel surfing couch potato finery and was uncannily drawn into their web world. I filled out as much as i could and then a request for money came (reasonable i know but the need for mint choc chip icecream was greater, so I signed off. )
might have been around march or april 08, was anything going on with you around that time ?
Lesson of the day : One may not think they work on YOU but those darn tv commercials really do have a way of sneaking in your back door ! The power of the media is truly an amazing thing.
c x.

Fabius said...

oh yes, its charlie the instigator here, i was meaning to talk to you about that finders fee.....the price of finding your family is a few grey hairs, 74 boxes of kleenex, 8 shoulders to cry on, 13 bottles of eyedrops, 10 superbly muscular calf muscles, big grins all round, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

hey Charlie, the whole thing is full of coincidences. Sister-ether-speak.

My book was published on March 11th, my bio states clearly that I was adopted,...etc.

Less than month later, you put our mother's name on Ancestry. (You put it on backwards.) For some inexplicable reason, I did a search reversing her Christian names...and Bingo!

There's summat odd at work here. But whatever. Thanks. I owe you for loads of Kleenex.

And I LOVE seeing you all over the web. You stunning person. Amazing.