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16 October 2014

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Elsie's Touch

By Denzil D John
October 2007, Maesteg
A digital story from Capture Wales

"My mother had three brothers and one sister, my Aunty Elsie. I loved Elsie because she was the only one who sent us postal orders on our birthdays. In 1958 she came to stay with us bringing her pregnant daughter, Shirley. Elsie had a bad heart and I can remember her sleeping in the middle room while my mother told us to "Shush", not to disturb her.

Aunty Elsie died on the day that Shirley brought her new baby home from hospital, Uncle Bill came straight down in a van and took Elsie and my cousins back with him the same day. I did not hear from any of them again for 50 years.

When my mother died, my sister, Ros, inherited all the family photos. I've always loved history so I enjoyed going through the albums trying to work out who was who. Ros lent me the photos that I was interested in so that I could take them home and scan them into my computer.

Recently I found out how to get in touch with Auntie Elsie's granddaughter, Lisa, who told me that it was her mother Jean's 60th birthday and that a surprise party had been arranged. We decided to go to Milton Keynes and be part of the surprise. When we got there all Elsie's surviving children were there and all her grandchildren too.

We had a great time but best of all, we knew each other as if we had never lost touch."

Please tell us a little about yourself.
I am unable to because of Rheumatoid Arthritis for the past 10 years. Finding something to do with my time I enrolled in Maesteg College where I studied computers. When not on the computer I like to read, listen to music, watching films and, weather permitting, going for a walk on the mountain side around the house.

What's your story about?
My Aunty Elsie and my memories of her and my cousin and losing touch with them for fifty years. I needed to understand what happened to my cousin and telling this story has helped me to do that.

What did you find most rewarding about the workshop?
The relief in being able to tell the story without being judged in any way. The team were very understanding in their approach to all of the storytellers. Also, it was surprising how a room full of strangers became friends over the course of the workshop.

Your comments

"Thanks for sharing your family story with us Denzil. I like how you remembered your Aunt Elsie and the special place she had in your family. Your old photos were fun to look at but I especially liked the new ones from the surprise party. It must have been a great day for everyone! It reminds me how all of us have someone in our lives who makes us feel special and loved. " Lori Rieger-Mackenzie, Chatham, Ontario, Canada.

"Just wanted to say I think this is great. I never knew my nan but have been told many stories about her and it was so great to get in touch with Denzil! I know my mum is very, very happy about it!" Lisa from Milton Keynes.

"I clicked on your story because this is the first time I found a person on the web with my name. Your story surprised me when you said the baby came home on the same day she passed away. That day must have been one of those days that our memory has to go back to, time and time again. I recently lost a dear friend from my early twenties and I spent many days going back, time and time again to the last day I saw him, the last conversation, and so on. I am so happy for the gift of memory! Thanks for your beautiful story, Elsie." Elsie Gilbert.

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