PART 10: STRONG WOMEN IN THIS FAMILY
It took 3 months to sort my life in Australia, to sell my stuff and pack up everything, to head back to New Zealand. During that time, Malta decided she wanted to head back to Australia, to where her sisters were, because she was missing them so much. Although this was sad for me, as I was heading back to New Zealand, I understood her desire to be with her family.
So before I headed back to New Zealand, I decided to visit Malta in Sydney and meet two more sisters. It sounds simple enough, but this was a truly terrifying venture. 'The women are strong in our family', Malta had told me. She is definitely the soft one and I am gratful I met her first!
Eileen was hesitant about meeting, which posed a problem as Malta was living with her, and Waimarie was even more scarier than Eileen. With serious trepidation, I booked my flight and hoped that Malta could sweet talk the girls.
When we arrived at Eileen's house, she was very hospitable and some of my fear dissipated, it wasn't going to be so bad. It was her birthday, so I had arrived with one of my beautiful paintings. It was one with great meaning and depth, which Eileen appreciated immensely and we discussed the beauty of the painting and the symbolism of it's meaning.
Eileen's apartment was near a shopping centre, so Malta and I headed off for dinner and margaritas (half a one for Malta, what a light weight!). To spend time with her was so easy, we get on so well, as if we had known each other forever. It really is an amazing thing.
The next day Malta & I went to visit Waimarie, she would be at a school fete with her kids and we could find them all there. It was a hot Sydney day and meeting for the first time was tense. I know it must be strange to meet a complete stranger, being told she is your sister, but the fact that these beautiful women were even willing to meet, really meant so much to me.
After the fete while Malta slept on the couch, Waimarie shared some of her stories from her childhood, it was such an incredible privilege to hear personal accounts about a father I will never know. Then this cute little face climbed up onto the couch and said, 'Aunty, how come I haven't seen you before?'.
I had never considered myself to be an aunty. Quintin had died such a long time ago, and Michael, the one brother I have, has children, but I don't know them. Now this little face was wanting to know why I was her aunty. I explained a simple child friendly version of my story to Peaches, enough to appease her and off she went to play with something far more exciting!
When I met Eileen's sons, (they are much older), after I got through the 'where did you come from' questions, we discussed the really important issues of life. Like what is the best Sci fi Tv series, (of course this goes without saying!).
It meant so much to me that Eileen & Waimarie would share their hearts, allow me to hear their stories and to be welcomed into their families. I see myself reflected in both of these beautiful women, their strength, their determination and their love for their families, I am so deeply proud and honoured to call them my sisters.
The first time I heard the words 'Aunty Froyle', was via fb messenger from a beautiful young lady eager to find out where that name had come from. My brother Michael had named her Huria Froyle Mclaren-Davies and she had tracked me down on facebook.
Mum had adopted Michael when he was fifteen months old. A beautiful Māori baby, Michael grew up with Quintin and I, a few years after mum & dad divorced, he followed dad back to New Zealand. Michael wanted to find his own people, he needed to understand his own identity
He had a turbulent life and we lost contact for a long time. I had only seen him briefly through the years and then one day out of the blue was a message for Aunty Froyle. My niece had made contact, so I made a plan and with the company of my amazing friends Alison & Dez, we headed to Picton to be reunited with my long lost brother. It was a beautiful reunion, there were hugs and tears, as I met my niece and caught up with Michael. He talked about finding whakapapa and what it had meant to him. This had been three years ago, and perhaps this experience had been the trigger to set Alison on her course to find my family? I am so glad that we did, I love that I have met so many of my siblings.
I know now where I come from and who I am connected to, who my family is and this has given me such a greater sense of self. I have lost a lot through my life, but it has all contributed to who I am now and finding my sisters has been a great treasure.