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23 Dec 2013

Last of the line - goodbye to some overseas cousins

With the passing of Nelson Mandela, all links to the old South Africa are going.  I do have cousins over there, and what’s strange for me is that many of the addresses I had came from old address books back here in England.  I wrote to Beth Ahrends twenty years ago, and she wrote that the government was changing and ‘the old awful policy of apartheid is going’.  She worked with others in the township of Khayelitsha teaching African women to sew and so to make money and improve their living standards.
It’s not been easy to locate her granddaughter Thomasin, and I thought I caught a glimpse of her in Australia at a bomb-scare at a school in Melbourne.  If it’s truly her, then Beth’s great-granddaughter told me a lot – she ‘didn’t want to be named’ in the story.  That certainly sounds like she’s tough enough to be Beth’s family.

I have finally found that my grandmother, 92, is indeed the last of her cousins, and there were 25.  It took the internet to establish this as the last three died in – Bermuda, Cape Town and Vancouver.  My grandmother, brought up in less than exotic, but still with a seaboard, Lancashire, lives in none of these places.  Her stillborn brother died in 1912, something of a stark fact – the year of the Titanic and all.  We definitely didn’t get to know him at all – such is the roll of the dice.

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