A Sense Of Belonging – Episode 15

The truth was, she had first-hand experience of that. It hurt watching a loved one make an unwise decision and she’d often prayed that Susanne wouldn’t end up broken-hearted. It happened, though. No way of stopping it. The only consolation was that some of life’s most important lessons were those learned through tears.

“You’re right,” Kate said. “It’s Walker’s decision, not mine.” There was a silence while she drew a deep breath. Then, forcing a smile on to her face, she said, “Talking about picking up the pieces, how are you getting on with your research into Nell’s family tree?”

Beryl smiled back.

“It’s been fascinating. So far we’ve found out that Jean went back to Scotland in 1938 and married a man called Robert Kerr. They lived in Dundee and had three children, Martin, Sally and listen to this they named their youngest daughter Helen.”

“After your mum?”

“I reckon maybe so.”

“Is Jean still living?”

Beryl sighed.

“No. She died ten years ago. Robert had already passed away before that.”

Kate studied her with curious eyes.

“But you’ve got cousins alive and well in Scotland?”

“All three of them live in Dundee,” Beryl said slowly. “Susanne’s been able to trace them through the internet. It’s amazing what you can find out just by digging around in birth and death records and the electoral roll.”

“And what about your grandad? Have you found out any more about him?”

“That’s an interesting story in its own right. He remarried after the war.”

“Did he have any more children?”

“No. But his second wife, Margaret, was quite a bit younger than him and she’s still alive.”

“Leaping lizards!” Kate exclaimed. “Nell’s stepmother is still alive? What age is she?”

“A hundred and two. She lives in a residential nursing home in Dundee.” Beryl grimaced. This whole new family in Scotland was something that she was only just starting to come to terms with.

What an unexpected twist of fate it had been when Ruth Jones, Nell’s friend, turned up at the ceilidh. A mere coincidence, or providence? No matter what, it had certainly triggered some quite startling discoveries about Nell’s family history, and the question of whether that was something her mum would have wanted had started to keep Beryl awake at night.

She wished she could ask her about it now. That and a lot of other things. And she knew it wouldn’t be the same celebrating Christmas in two days’ time without Nell; no matter how brightly the sun shone, the absence of her beloved mum felt like a dark cloud in Beryl’s heart.


A short while after the petition was handed over and the press photographers and camera crew from the local TV station had got the footage they wanted, Susanne appeared, and neither Beryl nor Kate were surprised to see that Walker was right beside her.

“Did you see Councillor Murrow’s face when he arrived?” Susanne gushed, her face alight with jubilation. “You could tell that he wasn’t expecting any more than a handful of people to be here, couldn’t you? What a shocker for him, eh?”

Beryl’s mouth curved.

“I reckon today was a bit of a wake-up call for that bloke.”

“Oh, I sincerely hope so,” Susanne agreed. “Imagine a planning committee granting permission for the demolition of a building constructed in honour of brave soldiers who were killed in action.”

“It’s not long till the municipal elections,” Kate said. “Brandon Murrow had better be careful what side of this debate he takes. There’s a lot of strong feeling in the community over this now.”

“I’d say we’ve forced the council to at least review their decision.” This came from Walker, and Beryl smiled inwardly as she watched his arm go round Susanne’s shoulder quite naturally. A nicer couple couldn’t be found, she thought wistfully. Too bad Walker was moving away.

“Where are the girls?” Kate put in.

“Busy enjoying the limelight,” Susanne answered with a pink-cheeked grin. “Sam and Karen are with them and I heard them say something about a trip into town for pizza and ice-cream at the Toucan Caf.”

“A well-deserved treat,” Beryl said.

“I agree,” Walker said. “How about the four of us head up to Mooraburra for a celebratory drink? There’s a nice Yarra Valley red chilling in the fridge, isn’t there, Mum?”

“Well, that’s a real beaut ” Beryl began.

Kate, however, cut her off.

“We might join you later,” she said. Then, deadpan, she turned to Beryl and said quickly, “You wanted me to go over to Emu Hill with you, didn’t you?”

Beryl stared at her open-mouthed.

“To have a look at that family tree of Nell’s, remember?” Kate went on with insistent eyes.

The penny dropped.

“Oh, yes the family tree. That’s right, Kate. Yes, I’d really like you to have a look at it.”

“You two go on ahead and have your glass of wine,” Kate said, almost too enthusiastically.

It was amazing, Beryl thought afterwards, that Susanne and Walker appeared to have been completely oblivious to the ruse. But that early flush of love did tend to be quite blinding.


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