A history of my Shetland roots arrived in the mail recently. A cousin sent me a copy of “The Sandness Story” compiled by the Sandness History Group. It tells the history of the small town of Sandness, where my great grandmother originated. I felt like I waited for weeks for it to travel across the world. Perhaps not as long as the ship carrying my ancestors took to get to New Zealand but when I was excited to read it, the time dragged.
My Shetland roots are very important to me. Yes, because of my interest in genealogy, but also because of the firm relationships I’ve established with cousins living there. Although generations and miles separate us, I feel closer to these cousins than those here in New Zealand. Perhaps that is because of my determination to maintain the link between us.
When it arrived, “The Sandness Story” delighted me. Not only did I recognise some of the locations from my visits, but I began finding relatives in the photos. What a thrill. But the biggest thrill was yet to come. I had sent a photocopy of my great grandmother and her two sisters, but because of its poor quality, it had been rejected. I was okay with this, as I agree the quality is poor. Imagine my delight when I found it included in the book after all.
Now my desire to return to visit Shetland and in particular Sandness is even stronger. I so want to wander around Sandness, imagining what it was like a hundred and fifty years ago. I’ve already stood where my great grandmother’s family must have stood as they watched twelve members of their family climb up the hill toward Lerwick and disappear. How poignant that must have been, both for those staying behind and those leaving. I wish this Covid disaster would disappear and allow me to make a return visit to my Shetland roots.