Saturday, June 23, 2007


Istanbul, Turkey, is a place where I almost died. Just as I turned 3 years old, my family moved from the US to Isanbul. We had a house that was right on the Bosporus, a body of water that connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara. One day I tumbled into the Bosporus, and would have drowned if not for my older sister, Paige, who was around 14 at the time. She heard the yells of our servant, who could not swim, and rushed out to dive in and save me. (Thanks, Paige!) The image above is the Bosporus, as seen from Satellite, and below is one of me at three, on the very edge of the Bosporus, tempting fate.

Last night I found a family Christmas card handwritten by my mother while we were living in Turkey. Mom has been dead for 40 years now, so it is rare for me to come across her handwriting. Her note is below. I have no idea who Aunt Jane was, but I was the baby she refers to. (My younger sister Temple was born just over a year later, after we returned to the US.)

And here is the front side of the card:

Here is a photo of me with both my parents while we were living abroad, taken in 1958 or '59. It looks as if whatever I was saying to them was amusing. I'm guessing now that I was having a vision of the future, and telling them all about the internet, and how someday I would put photos of them on my blog.

UPDATE: Aha! The mysterious Aunt Jane my mother was writing that Christmas note to has now been identified, thanks to my helpful brother Richard. She was Jane Erin Emmet de Glehn (1873-1961). She was the youngest sister of my great grandfather, Robert Temple Emmet. She was married to the artist Wilfred Gabriel de Glehn (1870-1951) and was also an artist herself, one of several women artists in the Emmet family, including Jane's sister Lydia Field Emmet. Below is a painting by John Singer Sargent, from 1907, showing Jane painting, with her husband nearby:

'The Fountain, Villa Torlonia, Frascati, Italy'

And below is an older Jane, painted by her husband:

And finally, here is one of Jane's own paintings:


Anonymous said...

Very interesting story!

Rogers Place said...

very interesting story with lots of great photos too.

Anonymous said...

Nice to meet you! Today I love spicypage! yoyr blog is very interesting! So nice family's story!
Have a beautiful sunday!

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's a really cool story! Can't wait for the update on Aunt Jane! I included you in my "Magnificent Seven" for posts like these! God bless!

Anonymous said...

makes me wonder how I my kids will look back on living abroad in 40 years.

Kim said...

hi Jaya
what a fantastic artiicle and wonderful photos....they certainly were talented were so lucky that your sister was there to save you.....

Jaya said...

Thanks EVERYONE, for your comments. It's rewarding to know that others
enjoy posts with this sort of personal family history!

The update on Aunt Jane part of this post was a bit challenging for me,
as I am terrible with genealogical information. I'm thankful to my dear brother
Richard for helping me out. He seems to have inherited the 'keeping track of
who is who' gene that I sorely lack. Also thanks to my cousin, Philip Williams,
for the convenient Emmet family tree he's put online over at:

badthing1 said...

Hi Jaya :)

I really enjoyed that visit into your past with you and can feel your sentimental emotion. WOW that story about you almost drowning made me shudder for you. Paige is a heroine for sure!!!!!

Your cat photos on top look just like my Furby!! :)

I've seen you around the social networks and it's great to finally cybermeet you - take care of yourself. said...

This was a fascinating post to read, Jaya. Thanks for sharing.

Jaya said...

Thanks, Adria! :-)

Welcome, BadThing, it's great to cybermeet you as well. I'd just been looking at your sites this morning, through Spicy Page. I appreciate the message of non-violence you are spreading online. Bravo! I work with teens, and that's a message we are always trying to get them to hear.

Anonymous said...

You strayed from a cat blog to a family history blog, but that's OK because the history of Turkey and almost drowning and talented relatives was wonderful. Now go give those kitties a treat.

Anonymous said...


I last met you about 40 years ago in Princeton NJ

Would love to hear what you are doing.Aunt Jane was my great aunt.

John A de Bruyne