Smorgasbord Short Stories – Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries #Technology – DNA by Sally Cronin

As is my custom, I am serialising one of my past books here on the blog, and over the next few weeks, stories from my 2020 collection, Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries, Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet. I hope you will enjoy.

Technology – DNA

Jenny was checking emails early one morning when she noticed there was one from the ancestry site she belonged to. As well as researching her family tree, she had also sent in her DNA to find out about her ethnicity. Knowing her parents had been from England and Ireland she was not surprised by the results, but was interested to discover the route from Northern Spain her ancestors had taken to reach the United Kingdom.

Her parents had not talked much about their families, and her father’s only brother had died in Korea in the early 1950s. Her mother Beryl had been orphaned during the Second World War at age seven, and had grown up in a children’s home in Essex, leaving at age sixteen to work in London. Beryl vaguely remembered an older brother who had been in the army but was missing in action. At the time of the bombing which killed her parents, they had given up hope of him being alive. Although Jenny had managed to find out some information about her grandparents on both sides, all their brothers and sisters were long dead and with the census only released after 100 years, she had not been able to track any offspring past 1911. She hoped the 1921 census released early next year would offer some more information about her mother’s brother.

Having a date of birth might narrow down the possible matches she had found in military archives, but with limited information and not knowing what regiment her uncle had been attached to, meant she was left with a great many records for men of the same name, many of whom were killed in action.

Jenny now hoped, having registered her DNA profile, that distant cousins who might also be tracing their ancestors would match with her, and offer some insight about earlier generations. She also uploaded the two family trees she had created for each of her parents, following her search of the various genealogy sites, and hoped they too might spark some interest.

Several weeks went by and being a bit disappointed with the lack of matches so far, Jenny was excited to receive an email stating a close match to a first cousin had been identified. Jenny was amazed, as she was not aware her father’s only brother had any children, and he was the only logical possibility. Eagerly she sent the match, Margaret, a note via the site and hoped it would not be too long before she received a response.

Two days later Jenny arrived home from her job in the local library and switched on her computer to find there was a reply to her message.

Margaret was clearly as excited as she was to have found such a close match, and she explained her father was in fact her mother’s older brother who had been a prisoner from 1942 until the end of the war. Notification of this had been sent to his parents but as the house had been completely destroyed, it had remained undelivered. When he returned after the war he had spent several months trying to find information about his family, but as so many records had been destroyed in the bombings, and with their neighbours moved away from the area, he had finally assumed his sister had died with their parents.

His name was Peter, and after the war he had immigrated to Australia believing he had nobody left to stay in England for. He had married, and Margaret was one of four children, all still alive and well and living in Sydney. Sadlu, he had died in 2000, but he had often talked about his little sister Beryl and his sadness at the tragedy of her loss. Margaret had taken on the role of tracing the family history and was amazed when she saw one of Jenny’s two trees mirrored her own on her father’s side.

Over the coming weeks they set up regular video chats, and at Christmas they celebrated together with a zoom call with Margaret’s two brothers and older sister and all their children, which resulted in much laughter and promises to keep in contact. Jenny was overwhelmed with the love and delight shown her, and this made Christmas Day rather lonely.

Since her divorce, after twenty-five years of childless marriage, Jenny had kept to herself, despite her work colleague’s invitations to meals and trips to the theatre and cinema. With her new family thousands of miles away, a wave of regret swept through her at the thought of retirement only a year away.

On New Year’s Eve, Margaret and Jenny spent an hour catching up on the Australian extended family’s activities, with news of an engagement and a new grandchild due in July.

After the call, Jenny sat for a while nursing her usual late night cocoa and looked around the living room of the house she had inherited her parents. It was too big for her, but she had wanted to keep their memory alive. In the last couple of years she had redecorated, replaced windows and front door, had the garden professionally landscaped, but it still felt as though they might walk through the door and sit next to her and chat about her day. It was in a good area of London, and after the last house insurance estimate, she knew it would be worth a lot of money. But who would she leave it to?

A few weeks later Jenny handed her notice in at the library, despite still being six months away from retirement. She explained she was putting the house on the market, was planning to move away from London, and wanted time to house hunt so she could move as soon as the house sold. The estate agent was very optimistic about a quick sale, as houses of this age and condition were snapped up by those working in the city.

She had told Margaret of her plans on her weekly video call, and two days later received an email suggesting a family call to discuss her plan. Jenny sat at her desk with a glass of red wine to hand; smiling as she was greeted by a wall of faces all shouting together, ‘Come to visit us in Australia Jenny.’

Totally taken aback for a moment she stared back at them all and then caught sight of Margaret waving a hand at her.

‘Why not come over Jenny? She smiled at her cousin. ‘We would love to see you. I thought about coming over to England on my own, but everyone wants to meet you in person.’

Jenny sat frozen in place. Her family was unusually quiet as they waited for her to speak.
‘Alright, I think it would be a lovely idea.’

A few weeks later with her house and its contents sold to a delighted buyer, and with most of her personal items stored safely until her return, Jenny boarded a flight for Australia.

Jenny couldn’t remember being this uncertain about the future as she applied for her first passport, never having left the country before, and contemplated meeting twenty men, women and children she had only seen online.

Once buckled safely into her seat on the plane, Jenny barely noticed the inflight meals or the films screened, and dozed fitfully until the captain announced they would be landing in Perth. It was bewildering and stressful going through the process of getting to her next flight onwards to Sydney, and it only increased the closer her final destination became.

Four hours later Jenny pulled her suitcase behind her and exited the baggage hall shaking from head to toe. She looked around at the crowded arrivals hall and desperately tried to find Margaret who had promised to meet her. Suddenly a cheer went up and she saw a banner stretching across the heads of a crowd of people off to the side of the hall.

‘Jenny, welcome to Australia, we love you’ in big blue letters.

Suddenly she was swept in to the arms of a plump woman who was crying and kissing her cheeks.

‘Oh Jenny it is so wonderful to see you and hug you in person.’

She stood back at arm’s length and smiled at her cousin. Sensing her nervousness Margaret put her arm around her shoulder and gently led her to the men and women standing under the banner eager to extend their own welcomes.

Jenny looked at all their faces and saw resemblances to her mother and felt an overwhelming sense of belonging. As they came forward one by one to hug her she realised her search for a new home was over.

©Sally Cronin 2020

My Book

One of the recent reviews for Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries

Patricia Furstenberg October 2021 Bookbub

There are writers who can keep you on your toes, and writers who can entertain. And there are writers who can compose soulful stories that speak to your heart. Sally Cronin is one such writer, and ‘Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet’ is a collection that will pull at your heartstrings. Even those you’ve forgotten about. 🙂

I was pressed for time when this book came out, and I could only pick it up now and then, taking in one chapter at a time. It only made the enjoyment of its reading last longer.

Cronin’s stories shine a spotlight on life’s simple humanity and on the humanity that rolls back into life. They are a reminder that life IS filled with hope. A read for all.

A perfect book during such trying times.

Amazon: Amazon US – Amazon UK: Amazon UK – More reviews : Goodreads

My latest book is a collection of poetry and was published on July 2021

 

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed the story.. I always love your feedback. Sally.

30 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Short Stories – Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries #Technology – DNA by Sally Cronin

  1. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Round Up – December 26th – January 2nd 2022 – New Schedule, Starship, NY Party, Shortstories, Reviews, Bloggers and Funnies | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  2. I really enjoyed this story. The part where Jenny was sitting in her parents house thinking perhaps it was too large for her and was it time to move on, resonated with me. We really don’t know who we’ll meet, the connections they’ll have and how our lives could change. Wonderful post xx

    Liked by 1 person

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