Who Am I? – From Morna G. Wales
About the author:
Morna G. Wales
Morna G. Wales lives in Toronto, Canada, and is a member of the Arts & Letters Club of Toronto, The Alumnae Theatre, and Theatre Ontario. After a twenty-five year banking career, much of it spent in project management, she now devotes her time to acting, writing and Family History research.
The dictionary describes an orphan as, “A child deprived by death of one or usually both parents.” Since I am the “child” of my parents and since both of them are now dead, then in the strictest of senses, I am an orphan. But I did not grow up as one.
I was fortunate to spend my childhood in a loving family in Canada with both parents, a sister and two brothers. During WWII, my father was a member of the Canadian Medical Corps and he met my mother when on leave in Edinburgh. As might be expected, the environment in which we children thrived was nourished by both their cultures, Canadian and British. What we didn’t have was the influence of an older generation as both my father’s parents had died during the war, and my mother’s were living in England. Although we did have an aunt, my mother’s sister, an uncle and three first cousins living in Africa, and one aunt, my father’s sister, who lived close enough to visit us every week, we always felt rather envious of our friends’ families who seemed to have an endless number of first and second cousins to provide a special type of companionship of which we felt deprived.
When my Canadian aunt died, I found amongst her papers a letter from someone I had never met nor even heard of. She had written to my aunt to find out if there might be a family connection. When I read the colourful name of the man through whom she felt they might be related, I became intrigued, for although I hadn’t heard of the letter writer, I certainly had heard of this man. My aunt had regaled us with tales about him, but being children and not having met him, the stories provoked little interest at the time and not enough curiosity to probe for details. Well, now I had my chance and thus started a correspondence with my cousin, whose grandfather was my great-grandfather’s brother, and whom I have yet to meet.
With her inspiration, I embarked on an adventure to discover the Wales family history. My great-great-great grandfather and grandmother immigrated to Canada in 1832, bringing with them six children; two more were born in this country. Descended from those two I have unearthed five hundred cousins living in various parts of North America and the Caribbean. Through the research into my father’s family, I have been given a glimpse of what life was like for the people who emigrated from the land in which my mother was born and this has enriched my life and made me feel more connected than I ever thought I would be. Who knows how many more connections an exploration of my mother’s family will reveal?