After 80 years the family secret is out
For more than eight decades Shirley McLoughlin didn’t know how her father died.
This year, at the age of 89, the truth was finally revealed.
‘‘I hadn’t known about it but I’d always had flashbacks,’’ McLoughlin said.
Ivan McCracken and his wife Barbara have spent the past two years investigating the family’s past. Their efforts, which revealed many tragic events in the family history such as the death of McLoughlin’s father Arthur McCracken, have resulted in a book Our McCracken and Goodwin Heritage.
‘‘Arthur committed suicide,’’ Barbara said. ‘‘But Shirley didn’t know until we were doing this research.
‘‘She was just so relieved to know what really happened to her father.’’
McLoughlin, who is based in Ha¯wera, said the information meant the world to her.
‘‘It’s set my mind at rest.’’
She was also very thankful for the book itself.
‘‘I think it’s marvellous, for me, it’s marvellous,’’ McLoughlin said. ‘‘It means a lot - it’s my family. I can pick it up now at any time and it’s all going to be there.’’
Ivan said that while growing up the family didn’t know much about their descendants, or even first cousins, and met some of them for the first time at the book launch.
The McCracken and Goodwin families came to Midhirst in the 1880s and two Goodwin sisters
‘‘It's set my mind at rest.’’
married two McCracken brothers and had a total of 21 children all together.
However, due to some of the tragic events such as death by rare disease, death at war, and mental illness, parts of the families were separated.
Ivan and McLoughlin are first cousins but only met each other for the first time this year despite both living in Taranaki.
McLoughlin said she didn’t know about any of the deaths in the family, other than her father’s which she said her mother sheltered her from.
She also said she’d only met two of the families out of the many McCracken descendants.
In saying this, Barbara admitted this book she and Ivan wrote didn’t just reveal tragedy.
‘‘There were good things too and from that sadness new life has come - that’s the beauty of it,’’ she said.
‘‘Those people that were here at the book launch, they’re the products and the offshoots of that sadness.’’
Shirley McLoughlin is the matriarch of the McCracken family and learnt many family tales from the recently published family book.