I’ve always been interested in the story.
As a child, it was Roald Dahl and it was within his story of The BFG that I first fell in love with storytelling. The tale became so embedded that when I was eight years old, I would leave my bedroom window slightly ajar so that if he happened to be passing The BFG would blow a beautiful dream my way, while I slept and dreamed of stories.
However, as an adult, I never envisaged that it would be my own personal story that would consume me the most.
I have always been interested in ancestry and wondered about the secrets locked within the caverns of my family’s past. Finally, last year, I explored my interest at the ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ exhibition in Glasgow.
Since then writing has taken over but in hindsight I wasn’t meant to start my research then. It wasn’t the right time.
Now it is the right time.
I started with the usual websites and quickly found myself obsessed and as my once buried research skills rose to the fore. It turns out once a bloodhound always a bloodhound. Figures and facts initially assailed me until underneath the surface I saw the stories buried within the past emerge into life.
Then I found myself meeting two great Aunts, Margaret and Isabella Dewar, born in 1854. Perhaps it was The Kinship Chronicles and the creation of Amber and Aiden within me but I found myself piqued by these twins and particularly in Isabella.
After the age of seven, I could find no trace of her. I found possibilities like a certificate that showed she could have married at seventeen or the 1930 American census that showed she might have ended up in Texas, living with her sister.
Curious and looking for answers, I went to the Scotland’s People Centre in Edinburgh to get some answers.
Armed with pads of paper and my folder of research I walked happily into the building on Princes Street, as quiet as a church, with thick dusty registers on the large forgotten shelves I found myself within the past and I knew for certain this would be the first of many visits.
Logging onto the system, I enthusiastically searched for Isabella determined to find out what had happened to her. Hitting a brick wall, one of the archivists made couple of suggestions and finally I found her.
Isabella Dewar died on 22nd March 1865 at the age of 11 from pleurisy.
It’s strange to mourn a little girl born over 100 years before you but as I read the words on the screen I honestly wanted to cry.
For this little girl had lived in my dreams and had taken my heart. In my mind’s eyes I had seen her dancing alone to bygone music in a drawing room and I loved the possibility and hope she represented. I so wanted Isabella to have lived a happy life and finding out she left this world at such a young age made me feel sad.
Now, even a few weeks later, I still feel her with me and I know now she will forever be alive because she is part of my history and as my family marks the progress of time, so will she.
Then I understood the lesson.
All I had to do was open my heart. When you’ve been hurt you protect yourself. You guard your heart with a shield that few can penetrate. Except it is only by surrendering, by trusting and opening yourself up to every emotion that you find your true self. It is this act of faith that will give you the life you want, if you are prepared to work for it.
So, if this is my story and my relatives find me 100 years from now this is what I would like them to know;
I am a storyteller who is consumed by words. I like cinnamon in my coffee. Every time I go for a walk on the beach, I come back with pockets full of stones and shells. I am clumsy and I have a soft spot for musicals. And when I love I do so with a passion that knows no bounds.
So, if I could leave you with one parting wish, I would like it to be this; open your heart and it will set you free. In the meantime, while I write my new series, I’m away to finally find my great granny, Christina Anderson, who read the teacups.
I can’t wait.