As we grow up our parents tell us not to talk to strangers, and although when we are children this is an important safety measure. I believe this is not a trait we should keep into adulthood. You can have truly amazing moments in life if you open the doors and let people enter your life, they may start out strangers but then as you get to know them things change and you may have an incredible experience like the one I had the pleasure of recently, and find out they aren’t really strangers at all!
I was lucky enough to have had the amazing experience of meeting a sweet and kind old lady by the name of Eileen (I don’t want to give her full name for privacy, family contact me personally for details). In general conversation she found out my family were local to the area and we got talking about who they were. I told her who my grandparents were and she asked enquiringly “Did he have a brother by the name of Rex and a sisters named Dawn and Betty?” I replied a little shocked “Yes!”. We continued to chat and we confirmed that we were talking about the same person! She revealed she used to babysit my grandfather when he was a toddler! I had met my grandfathers babysitter! This was truly a very emotional experience which bought me to tears 11 years after his passing.
My grandfather, Neil Crouch was one of the most amazing, kind, caring and inspiring men I had ever known. So when he passed away in 2002 when i was only 17 , I was absolutely devastated, as was our entire family. The overwhelming out-poor of love and support received from his many friends and extended family, from across the whole of Australia was so very appreciated, and it serves as a testament of how loved he was. So you can imagine my emotional state while talking to Eileen about my grandfather who had passed away from cancer many years ago.
Eileen proceeded to tell me about how adorable he was as a baby, and how she used to get excited when she saw his mum coming down the road on their horse and cart (they both lived on farms outside a small regional town in New South Wales, but relatively close to each other). Her eyes lit up as she explained how huge the mare they had was, and how it was almost put down because none of the horse handlers could keep her under control, and everyone kept clear of her stall in the stables. However apparently his mother, my great grandmother Kathleen Crouch who was the tiniest woman around had complete control of her, and with her the huge mare was extremely well behaved and was very loyal to it’s family. She said my great grandmother although she was a very small lady in size, she was a very strong and proud woman, who easily handled this “uncontrollable” mare as well as 4 young children everyday. She went on telling me many stories of him, his siblings and mother when he was merely a baby & toddler!
This was such a rewarding experience, and when I got home I immediately called my mum (Bev, our Ancestry Researcher) about what I had just heard about her father. She immediately broke down in tears and thanked me. Finding out these kinds of family stories are more emotional than you expect them to be, you just need to watch an episode or two of “who do you think you are?” to realise the potential for finding out some fantastic details about your family’s history, and it’s absolutely worth it!
Open those doors and be kind! It will get you further in life than being secluded and withdrawn, life will be so much more fulfilling!
You never know who you may meet, or what you might find out about others or even yourself or your family, you never know when strangers aren’t really strangers at all!