tbabfag1A year before Teresa Scott (64) of Monte Vista met her half-brother, Chris Roberts (69) of Shoreham-By-Sea in England, she never even knew he existed.
Chris saw his new family for the first time last week Friday, and after a few days of discovery he will be returning home as an enriched man.
Chris and Teresa’s father, Antoni Fejgiel, had three children with his wife, Maria, and one with Beryl Mainwairing.
This boy was named Christopher, but since he was born outside of wedlock, he was put up for adoption during the second World War.
In order to tell this extraordinary tale of tragedy, ecstasy and fate, one must be swept away to the instability of the past.
It is 1939 and Europe is reeling.
Antoni must leave his wife and two children in Warsaw, the capital of Poland, as he and half of Europe took on the might of the Germans.
Antoni fled and fought through countries Hungary, Yugoslavia, Italy, France and ended up in Great Britain, where he joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a technician.
As far as Teresa is aware, her father never stayed in touch with her mother, due to the difficulties of war.
Technicians were in the airplanes during the war, and the RAF bombed Warsaw, so the horrifying possibility existed that Antoni was dropping bombs on his own family.
“I can’t think of anything more dreadful. Bombing his own family and country,” says Chris.
Maria and her two children fled the burning Warsaw on foot, as she recounted their torment many de­cades later.
Teresa reads her mother’s words: “Bombs dropping all around. One night during a raid, I got up, dressed the children (Jadwiga and Richard), and walked about 50 km to my aunt’s farm. It took us two days and two nights as we walked through Warsaw that was burning and buildings were collapsing all around us.”
Meanwhile, while Antoni served in the RAF, he met a young Beryl and conceived a child – Chris.
He was put up for adoption in part down to his mother’s young age at the time (19) and mainly because a child born out of wedlock was frowned upon.
“I don’t think I ever felt tearful about it,” says Chris. “I always loved my adopted parents and only met my biological mother, Beryl (88), in January this year. She incidentally only lives 65 miles away from us. A strange coincidence is that one of her other children also went into dentistry just like me! It must be the genes.”
After the war in 1945, tragedy hit the Fejgiel’s again when their 12-year-old son, Richard, was shot accidentally by the neighbour’s son when the two were arguing over whose father would join the communist side now that the war was over. Maria and Jadwiga were apparently offered a ticket out of Europe, possibly to avoid them pressing charges.
They came to South Africa, and after the War Antoni discovered where they fled to and joined his family here. Soon Maria was pregnant again – this time with Teresa.
Antoni never talked to them about Beryl or Chris, and neither he nor Maria ever really brought up the painful memories of the war.
Decades later, Chris started his winding road of self-discovery and he was surprised when he found out with the help of a social worker that his half-sister and half-niece, Christine Scheepers (the 46-year-old daughter of Jadwiga), were living in South Africa.
Says Christine: “He (Chris) contacted a social worker, who immediately contacted the RAF and was amazed to discover that grandchildren from South Africa had just recently also made enquiries regarding this very same man. With modern technology the social worker was able to track us down and when we saw his birth certificate and a photograph we had no doubt he was related to us. He is the spitting image of our grandfather. I just wish my mother was alive to see this…”
Teresa concludes: “You are 69 or 64 years old and you suddenly realise you have a brother or a sister. It is amazing!”
Chris will soon be returning to England and Teresa hopes that she too can one day drop by for a visit.
The family, who only recently discovered one another, has a whole lot of catching up to do.
Watch the whole interview on TygerBurger’s website, http://www.tygerburger.co.za.