I sent an email to Pat telling her that the precious bible was winging its way to her. She is my most favorite female cousin that I have never seen. There is no competition actually as I have at least met the other five. The six of us are all nieces of Dave Dryburgh, the subject of my biography. I met Carol-Ann and Gail in March of 2010, cousin Faye in December of 2015, cousin Geri in January 2016 and cousin Janet in 1949. But I have never ever even seen Pat. As you can see we cannot be described as a close family and we are not even talking about the male cousins. I do not even know some Dryburgh nephew’s first names. There are incidentally sixteen nieces and nephews of Uncle Dave, some are missing in inaction.
I would not have even known about my Dryburgh cousins save for the fact I came to London and ended up writing a biography of Dave Dryburgh, the eldest son born to Janet and George Dryburgh. George and Janet begat eight sons, seven lived to adulthood married and, except for Uncle Dave, had children. They and their families scattered across Canada and even to Australia, as in Pat’s father’s case. Pat’s father is my Uncle Jim.
Back to the bible, well not really back as I have not started writing about it yet. I emailed Pat to tell her that I had mailed her father’s bible. The email informed: “Mailbox wrapped it so tenderly, probably because I started to cry when I told them the story about it..and us. With love, Alexis
So this is the story about that precious bible. I am in London writing a biography of Uncle Dave.corresponding with cousin Gail. Any tried and true biographer has to go the their subject’s territory and so we plan and execute a trip to Scotland in June of 2015. A month ago Gail reminded me that when I first met her in March of 2010 I proposed a trip to Scotland. I cannot remember the conversation but Gail is credible. I had no idea whatsoever that I would be writing a biography of my uncle in 2010, furthest thing from my mind actually. But we went to Scotland, Gail and I in 2015, connected and I can safely say: bonded. I previously had absolutely no connection with what I will call the Dryburgh clan but Gail, that woman had contacts. Geri is her sister so that is pretty connected, she lunched with Carol-Ann and because Gail lived in Australia she is close to Pat. She has Faye’s email address and eventually we find Janet. I suggest to Gail (and all) that we email to share stories of the Dryburgh clan and get to know one another. I cleverly call us the Niece’s Nexus and off we go tripping together in cyberspace. We email back and forth and do rash things like meet one another finally. At this point the name of the book, (partially suggested by Pat) is: Dave Dryburgh: A Relative Found, A Family Born. We women connect and it is very meaningful to all of us. We cry over each other’s emails on a regular basis.
Through this process we piece together a history of Janet and George Dryburgh. The piecing together is necessary because this was a family with no stories, no pictures, no letters, no postcards. None of the paraphernalia that regularly surround families. It is pathetic. How do you write a biography of a man dead since 1948 who had no children and with no information whatsoever? Make it hard for yourself Alexis, make it hard for yourself. And from London of all places. Uncle Dave in 1920 emigrated to Saskatchewan from Scotland and never looked back. I spent all of my breaks from my London school traveling to places related to the biography. I go to Canada in December and January of both 2015 and 2016. During my December 2016 trip I travel to Regina – actually from Edmonton on a Greyhound bus. Now that is a story in and of itself. I went to Regina for two reasons. Regina is where my uncle spent his entire career as a famous and terribly talented sportswriter, and where he is buried. But the other attraction in Regina is cousin Faye and her husband Larry. I have never met them before. They live on Dryburgh Crescent, named for my uncle. Dave Dryburgh was a powerful force but quite sadly forgotten by the family. Until me.
I meet and bond with Faye and Larry as strongly as I had with Gail. The day I will never forget: I am standing in the living room on Dryburgh Crescent. Faye walks in the room with two books in her hand. She passes me one. I at this moment, here in London, hold it in my hand. It is black leather, frayed old and stained. It announces on the cover that it is The Church Hymnary. I opened it that day in London. The fly leaf said and says that it is the Dysart Parish Church Sabbath School Prize awarded to David Dryburgh for his attendance good conduct and lessons. David Dryburgh, at that point and at this point, is the love of my life. That is what happens with biographers, they become quite mad about their subjects. I weep as I write this as it is the only tangible thing I have of him. Then Faye hands me the second book. It says it belonged to James Dryburgh, Pat’s father. I cannot describe it fully as I mailed it off the other day. Timing is everything and this is a bit off, as usual in my life.
I bring the books back to London thinking I might be going to Australia but it is not to be for awhile anyway. I have to finish the damn book first. Pat so loves her father and we have a heartfelt exchange of emotion as she pleads for the bible asap. The lengthly correspondence will be found in the book. The book I am going to Regina to finish.
This is how the email thread which began this post ends.
Pat emails: Oh Alexis…..you are such a treasure……no wonder I love you
Me back: Now you made me cry. It is hell trying to staying hydrated. I am not sure if I am going to blog the whole story. My goodness I have had 234 visitors and 1000 hits. Boggles the mind. Uncle Dave would be proud, if only he knew what a blog was. Lots of love, Alexis
Pat emails: Im sure Uncle Dave has been watching you for a long time….and watching is learning so he probably knows more about blogs than you do by now! HAHAHA And here was me thinking I was the only one who cried at the drop of a hat…guess we must be related….it’s in the genes
My turn again: You are probably right about Uncle Dave. I actually seem to have some innate wisdom about blogs, it probably comes from him, passing it down to me.
So that is the story about the precious bible that I mailed the other day from London. So genetically we Dryburgh women do share a great deal. Crying and a keen sense of humor being the two key features. I need to finish the book so that you can hear the rest of this magnificent tale of a relative found, my uncle Dave; and a family born, the Dryburghs. More also about the bible and the hymnal.