Ruth sighed as she settled in her favourite chair, with yet another glass of iced tea. For a moment, she just sat, relaxing and looking out at the patio and garden. Alice had not only had the tea ready when she got home, but a lovely cold dinner. Now she was in her room working on a computer program, and Ruth could get to work on the things in the shoe boxes.
She looked at the, and for the first time saw labels on the ends. On one, it said letters from I.A.McF. On the other, legal documents and letters, pictures. Both had dates – the letters dated from April 1941 to March 1943, the other the dates were 1942/43. She decided to open that one first, as it might help in finding who Ian was, and why they had never heard of him.
Lifting the lid, Ruth set it aside and lifted a fat legal envelope out. Inside, she found, first a marriage certificate for Susannah Ruth Thompson and Ian Alasdair MacFarlane, dated June 16, 1942. Wow! Ruth thought. Mom was married before! Putting that aside, she took the next document out. This was a birth certificate for Ian Alasdair MacFarlane, giving Susannah and Ian as parents, and dated April 24, 1943. Better and better, the baby in the picture was her half -brother. But wait – there was a second birth certificate; it named a girl, Ruth Elizabeth – WHAT!! But – she knew her birthday was In April, Mom always said the first, and in 1944. Did this mean Ian was her twin?!
For a while, all Ruth could do was sit and stare into space, her mind so shocked she could barely think. When the worst of the shock passed, she noticed that there was one other paper in the envelope, a yellow sheet. Lifting it out, she saw that it was a telegram.
“To: Mrs. Ian A. MacFarlane. We regret to inform you that Lieutenant Ian Alasdair MacFarlane was killed in action August 19, 1942.“ There was a bit more, but – he must have been on his embarkation leave when they married, and she got pregnant right away – or was already pregnant. So the card with the christening dress must have been his response when he heard the news. Probably he was in England by then, and two months later he was killed at the battle of Dieppe. How sad!
Ok, but that doesn’t explain why the change in her birthdate; or hiding the fact that there were twins. It must have been really hard for Mom, working and trying to raise a new baby. Of course Grams and Gramps would have helped, but Ruth knew how hard up they had been. It was all just too much to take in. She got up and walked out to the patio, and went right down to the end, standing in the middle of the group of lilacs. This had been a favourite spot for her ever since she and Jerry had started having all the rows. She was invisible here; no one could see her from the house – only when they got quite close.
She didn’t know how long she’d been there, when she heard Matt shouting. “Hey, Ruthie! Where are you? Wait till you hear my news!”
Feeling somewhat calmer, she went back to the house. Matt, Nancy and Nancy’s son Greg were there, all smiling and brimming with excitement. “I have some pretty – um – well, some news, too,” she said. “But first, you tell yours.”
“Do you remember when I was in university, Aunt Ruth, and I kept talking about my English Lit professor? How much he looked like our family?” Nancy asked. Ruth nodded. Nancy had been a regular pest about it, she recalled.
“Well, that was was Professor MacFarlane. And now Greg has a professor in physics, William MacFarlane. We looked up both, and my professor was Ian A., and William is his son.”
“Yes, Aunt Ruth,” Greg cut in excitedly, “and he looks like Uncle Dan. He said his Dad, Prof. Ian, was born here in Guelph, and was brought up by his Dad’s parents. Ian’s Dad was killed in WW2.”
“Well,” Ruth exclaimed. “That fits in with what I found out. I found their marriage certificate, and Ian’s birth certificate, and the telegram Mom received when Ian was killed. Do you know where he lives now?”
“That’s the biggest joke of all!” Greg laughed. “They live over on Maple Street. Professor William’s Mom died five years ago, and he lives with Ian. So they live within a couple of miles of us, and we have never met them. Except for me and Mom, and then only as students.”
“That is interesting, “Ruth said. But she didn’t seem as excited about it as they were. Matt took a closer look and saw that her eyes seemed to be sad, and oddly haunted.
“Ruthie, what’s the matter? What have you found out that is upsetting you?”
Ruth looked at him, then, instead of answering, she handed him the big envelope of documents. “It’s all in here,” she said.
Matt took the envelope and sat down by the coffee table, where he spread everything out after reading them. Suddenly, he gasped, looked at Ruth, stood and went to her and wrapped his arms around her. “Oh, Ruthie. What a way to find out! But just think – we have found another brother! And from want Nancy has said, a really nice guy” Ruth leaned against him, head resting on his shoulder. Her voice was muffled as she said “Yes, I’m hurt that Mom never told me. And” she lifted her head and moved back slightly “I’m a year older than I thought!”
Matt broke up over that, then turned to see that Nancy, Greg and Alice (who had heard the voiced and come down) were reading through everything. “Oh, Grandma – you’re a twin! I’m sure Great Grandma would have told you, if she’d had time. Remember, when she was in hospital, she tried to tell you something, but couldn’t get the breath.” Ruth nodded, “Yes, I know she tried.”
Three weeks later there was a big gathering at Matt’s. All the family were there, with the addition of Ian and William, and their families. Ruth sat off to one side, under a tree, and Ian came over to sit beside her. “Ruth, if I’d known you were so close, I’d have come sooner. My grandparents told me that I had a twin sister, but nothing else. They said our Mother couldn’t raise two of us, and let them adopt me to help ease their pain over losing their only son. Grandma said Mom hugged and kissed me, with tears running down her face when they took me away. But now we have found each other, and look at the wonderful family we have – all of yours and all of mine, together. There couldn’t be a happier ending, now could there?” Ruth smiled, took his hand, and shook her head. “No, Ian, there couldn’t.”