My father passed away in May 2018, on my birthday, I’ve taken time out to think and reflect! Loss on that scale really makes you sit up and think about life. I hadn’t realised that the grief would be so deep and impactful and I still miss and think about him every day.
Up until the last few months of my father’s life, I had always had a difficult relationship with him, maybe it was partly that which brought me to family constellations work. But I am happy that in the last 18 months I was able to reconnect with my father, in love and not anger. To say the things that needed to be said, about love and respect and honouring his sacrifices, and to heal old wounds.
The Ancestral Journey Continues
I realise as the weeks have gone by without him that my ancestral journey has also been a way to reconnect to him and my heritage. I spent hours with him talking about the past and different family members. I found out more about my father’s mother and all the dates of birth and death of my uncles, aunts and grandparents.
We talked about Guyana and I started revisiting and reconnecting with cousins. And I learnt more about what had brought him to the UK, even though I knew a lot before I learnt more. And now that he is gone, I know that not all my questions have been answered, but enough to feel connected to my identity and parental ancestral lands.
A Guyanese Citizen is Born
In July 2018, I returned to Guyana and finally received my citizenship. I reconnected with my Uncle Alfred who I hadn’t seen since 1979 (he looks and sounds just like dad). Together we journeyed down the great Essequibo River and travelled along the coast to see a bit more of the Guyanese country. I wish my dad had been alive to tell him in person about my travels.
Increasingly I am hearing people of my generations raise modern dilemmas, whether to reconnect with a homeland that has been left behind, whether to claim citizenship of the ancestral home of parents and grandparents. To do so, is also to face the disconnect from the past and the splits that have been created that continue into the present.
Now Dad has Gone is there More to Find
Talk with elders now before they pass on is so important, (if you have not already been doing that I suggest that you start now) because when they are gone, the knowledge, the traditions, the culture are lessened or gone. You may find long-lost family relatives, but also like me find some unexpected surprises, both good and bad.
I recently found the dates of my mother and fathers arrival in London in the 1950s. My Uncle Alfred told me that they had sailed on a Dutch ship from Georgetown and there on Ancestry.com was all the information from the National Archives.
It is fitting that I have found out after dad passed how he came to the UK and that it is recorded in the National Archives. It is something that he would have wanted. I know he arrived on a cold grey day in October in Plymouth. The rest is his-story and for another time.