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I occasionally watch a reality television show in which celebrities trace their family roots. Recent events triggered a keen interest in this myself. Now normally I’d be reluctant to get into this, fearing all manner of rogues and possibly thieves to be part of my family’s past (hey, I know my family!) , but I received a phone call from England that changed my mind.

A solicitor phoned to say that I am heiress to an unknown relative’s estate. And when I say unknown, I mean I haven’t a clue who this guy was. But the solicitor had had an expert do some digging and had come up with details that proved I am, indeed, a distant relative of some sort. As such, I am eligible to receive some portion of his estate since he died without a will. There are apparently other relatives that remain elusive so I have no idea what my share might be. But she did use the word  ‘Estate’, and they would hardly go to such effort if it didn’t involve a substantial bequest. We are dealing with lawyers, after all. There has to be something in it for them or they wouldn’t pursue it so vigorously. It all  sounds promising.

And off my imagination soared…perhaps he was a wealthy man with a large, impressive manor house or small castle that, after it was sold, would be worth millions. Ha! I’ll be lucky to receive $1.98 or a token set of china tea cups.With my luck, I’ll be the new castle owner but be expected to pay the millions owing in back taxes before I can have it! But the whole incident intrigues me.

Gill has long been curious about the family roots. (This is mostly part of her Grand Scheme to be allowed to stay in the UK permanently. Relatives, no matter how bat shit crazy, can be an asset.) Me? Not so much. I have had my share of crazy relatives. I knew some of them that she never met and believe me, if they were representative of our clan, we’re better letting sleeping dogs lie and change our name.

Naturally, with all this talk of genealogy, I thought, since I was going to Australia, the least I could do was to try to find some of Mrs. Beeton’s relatives…or at the very least, meet some other Bourke’s parakeets and pass on her regards to them. No matter that she was raised in captivity here in Canada, I simply thought it the right and decent thing to do. After all, she is a part of our family too.

Mrs. Beeton’s breed are ground dwellers, nomadic, sing a sweet little song at dusk and when they fly, their wings make a whistling sound. Armed with this detailed knowledge of her ‘people’, off I went on expeditions to find her kin. Oh,the tour guide thought I was interested in the marvelous scenery, rock formations, ocean vistas…but I was really conducting a covert operation to find a Bourke’s. So yes, that was me rustling around in the bushes, peering awkwardly into trees for several minutes at a time (no doubt prompting the other tourists with me to question my sanity), listening for any twittering at dusk that might be a dead giveaway. Alas, no luck. And given that everything in Australia(from poisonous snakes to spiders and wild dingos) is actively trying to kill you, I was fortunate to escape with my life.

I did discover a Bourke St. in Melbourne and Mrs. Beeton’s kind was documented in a bird book that I was seriously thinking of ‘lifting’ from the collection aboard a river cruise…but that would have been ridiculous as well as illegal. As it was, I was pulled out of the airport security line, ordered to have a full body scan, a pat down and my hands swabbed for explosives. All because the small bottle of water I had forgotten in my purse was too large to take on a plane. Good thing I didn’t steal the book or, worse yet, find a companion for Mrs. Beeton and try to smuggle her home.

No, I had to be content to deliver my sincere apologies to Mrs. Beeton and tell her I tried my best. She accepted my apology graciously, but since it seems to be coming into mating season, she was more interested in doing a swooping display than chatting about my lame excuses.I suspect that Gill was more disappointed than Mrs. Beeton over my failure.

 

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