Life was changing all the time and I was living at my Auntie Ellen’s and sharing a bedroom with my cousin’s Kevin and Kenny, when one day Auntie Ellen was looking through some old photographs and pointed to one and said to me “That’s your sister there”, I knew I had two sister’s but had never seen a picture of any of them and now here I was looking at one of them. I couldn’t stop thinking about it over the next week or so, ‘what do they look like now’, ‘do they know they have a brother’, ‘would they like to meet me’ and things like that where going through my head. My mam got in touch with their mother Violet -my birth mother –and told her that I wanted to meet my sister’s so she arranged it and I went and met them both. It was a surreal feeling meeting my flesh and blood for the first time, I didn’t know how they would react so I didn’t say too much as I didn’t know what to say. Both had partners and children of their own so I didn’t want them to feel like I was interfering so I didn’t go and see them as much as I’d liked.
We found out that there wasn’t just the three of us as we had thought and that Violet had given birth to a baby boy in 1959 and had him adopted. I searched for years without success to find my brother. I even went on the TV programme Surprise Surprise back in the 1980s and went on a part of the show called Searchline, making an appeal to find my brother, all to no avail. I was sick of getting asked by people ‘Did you find your brother’ only having to say ‘No’ to them.
A year later 2013 I got in touch with After Adoption and was assigned a case worker. I gave them all the information I had and left it with them. We exchanged e-mails and phone calls but they are not allowed to divulge any information and I got a phone call to say they found a man that matched all the information I had given them. They had wrote to him and told him the story and that his brother was looking for him and would like to meet him etc. I was buzzing. I had to wait a few weeks and there was still no news, maybe he didn’t want to know or maybe he was having a long think about it and wasn’t ready yet or needed more time. My mind was boggling with it all. My wife Wendy went through it all with me and was as excited as I was, she was hoping for a happy ending. He was on the electoral role at that house until 2006 and he hadn’t moved anywhere else and nobody else was down as living at the property. When there was no reply they wrote to him again and said the same things in this letter. They told me they couldn’t write again because it would be seen as harassment so were hoping he might reply to this.
As the weeks went by there was still no reply and I was thinking he didn’t want to know or he would have been in touch by now. If he didn’t want to know I would rather he said and then I’d know to forget it and say at least I tried. The waiting was doing my head in and as the weeks came and went there was still no reply. I messaged my old mate Eddy Ellwood and asked him if he knew a man who fitted the description because he was from the collieries and so was my brother, but Eddy didn’t know him but what he did say was “Why don’t you put an appeal on Facebook you never know who might see it” and that’s what I did.
It wasn’t on very long and my old pal Vulture phoned me and said “Why don’t you get in touch with Fraser, he does stuff like that for a living. He will find your brother”. I hadn’t seen Fraser for years and didn’t know he was into that kind of thing. I spoke with Fraser on the phone and gave him the little details I had and he said he’ll be in touch. Less than an hour later he phoned me and said “Out of all the people in the country, only one matched your information and he lives in Easington Colliery. I’m going up there now to knock on his door”. My god I couldn’t believe how fast he found him and all the years of frustration would soon be over one way or another.
Fraser knocked on his door but there was no answer. He didn’t want to leave with no information so he knocked at next door. The neighbour said that John had died in 2006 after falling down the stairs drunk and smashing his head at the bottom causing a severe Haemorrhage to the brain. He had laid there for a couple of days before a neighbour noticed he hadn’t been taking the dog for a walk so they phoned the cops.
When The Police went in the house they found John at the bottom of the stairs dead and the dog by his side, what a tragic end. When Fraser phoned me and said “It’s not good news I’m afraid” I thought he was going to say he had spoken to him and he wasn’t interested in meeting but when he told me what happened I felt like I’d just been hit with a hammer. Then I started to grieve for John even though I’d never met him, it was the closing of the story that had been playing an on off role in my life since 1984 and it was finally at the journey’s end.