Mudlarks and Meadowlarks from the Thames to the Humber

Mudlarks and Meadowlarks from the Thames to the Humber

I stared at the sad statistics of Grandpa’s family’s life, the impetus for his emigration to Canada for good things in a New World. I felt overwhelmed at what had led to my family life in Canada. There, within the pages of an old Bible, was the name of the voice that had been waiting patiently and persistently for over a hundred years to be acknowledged and believed. And heard… above all, heard—listened to—because we can’t fully leave this realm until our story is acknowledged and finished. Someone must hear us and weave our story into some kind of fabric, receptive and complete. Sarah Pegg, wife of Arthur Westley, mother of eight children, two of whom survived into enduring adulthood. Sarah Pegg, dead and gone from her family’s history at age forty-three. I had never heard of her—from anyone—and had never taken the time to delve into the Bible (how did it get here, to Canada?) and find this modest genealogy. But I knew it was Sarah’s voice I’d heard—Sarah who had spoken to me. I had a compelling sense that she was speaking and needing something.

Oh, Sarah, how patient of you! You must be so very weary.

I couldn’t escape her voice. Nor did I want to. I became wilfully possessed by this woman who had made it possible for me to be here, this Sarah Pegg, of whom I knew nothing. Nothing.

This Sarah Pegg, of whom I must know everything. Everything.

Help me find you, Sarah. No one but Sarah could hear me. No one but Sarah, sad mother of eight children. Sad mother of six dead children and two who had left for Canada because the rest of her descendants must be born there, across the great Atlantic Divide.

And so began my journey of listening, to the inaudible, to the stories of one of London’s tattered children.


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