Have you ever wondered where you’re from? I’m not talking about the “birds and bees” story or whether you were born in Texas or Tennessee, Maryland or Virginia or any other state. I’m talking about the traces of your family’s distant path. What about your ethnicity and race? What about the culture that defines your understanding of life? If asked for a description of your lineage, would you be at a loss for words?
They say that ignorance is bliss. Consequently, I’ve got to be one of the most blissful people you’ll ever meet. I can pretty well trace my family tree through my great grandparents, but after that, the trail has twists and turns I’d never be able to follow.
I guess I grew up with the notion that I was as commonplace as dirt. While I knew folks who identified themselves as German, British, Italian, French and Hispanic, I had no idea of much related to my lineage. When asked about my ethnicity, I’d simply respond: “Heinz 57.” The advertising slogan carried with it the implication that the possibilities were limitless. My life was a blending of a homogenous mix of any number of possibilities, but I had no idea what they were.
Of course, I’ve read that in an ideal world:
- The policeman would be English
- The car mechanics would be German
- The Innkeepers would be Swiss
- And the lovers would be Italian
In contrast, in a less than idea world:
- The policeman would be German
- The car mechanics would be French
- The cooks would be English
- The innkeepers would be Italian
- And the lovers would be Swiss
I guess if there is an upside to being “Heinz 57” variety, I don’t fall into any of the aforementioned stereotypes regarding abilities or skill sets.
I don’t remember how the conversation started. I was talking with my niece. She said, “Lilian (her daughter) told her that Javier (Lilian’s dad) said he is more Irish than I am. Can you believe that? His last name is Gonzales and his mother’s maiden name was Gonzalez. Obviously his assertion is absolutely nonsense”. From there our conversation went to the lack of clarity that either of us have regarding our extended family tree.
At that point in the conversation, my niece suggested that we (Lilian, Karoni and myself) take advantage of the technology of Ancestry.com. In fact, Karoni said: “If you’ll do it, I’ll pay for it, happy belated birthday”. Actually, I had recently given a passing thought to “wouldn’t it be nice to know” after hearing an ad from Ancestry.com. Why not take advantage of the information available? Besides that, a DNA test takes no effort on one’s part and it pain free.
This week, my niece brought me the Ancestry DNA kit. I haven’t yet had time to open the box and read the instructions, but this could be the beginning of something good. The testing could affirm that I come from royalty. On the other hand, it probably will conclusively confirm what I already know.
You know what they say, “Nothing is dustier than a country road in a dry spell.” That is the kind of common dirt that I’m made from. That doesn’t have near the appeal of Jim Weldon’s Johnson’s narration of creation:
“…Then God sat down–
On the side of a hill where he could think;
By a deep, wide river he sat down;
With his head in his hands,
God thought and thought,
Till he thought: I’ll make me a man!
Up from the bed of the river
God scooped the clay;
And by the bank of the river
He kneeled him down;
And there the great God Almighty
Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky,
Who flung the stars to the most far corner of the night,
Who rounded the earth in the middle of his hand;
This great God,
Like a mammy bending over her baby,
Kneeled down in the dust
Toiling over a lump of clay
Till he shaped it in is his own image”
Regardless of which ever lump of clay I come from, I’m eager to know more. The DNA testing possibility has caught the General’s interest. She said, “I may ask my mother to do this. Of course, it’s too late to get a DNA sample from Dad”. Sometimes the General isn’t as smart as she thinks, I responded, “Get the testing done for yourself and you have the composite of both your parents”. She hadn’t stopped to consider that.
The General subsequently talked with her mother. They are both going to both do the testing. Of course, I had forgotten it, but the General’s grandmother was part Cherokee. Why hadn’t I thought of that? That explains a lot!
My initial thought was that the General is primarily German. After all, how else can you explain the “goose step”, her natural ability to provide structure, issue orders, and her need for everything to be orderly, neat and organized? No, at the end of the day, German will be the dominate theme determined by her DNA.
Can that be right? I had forgotten about the Cherokee connection. Could that take precedence? Could that be dominate in her DNA? How could I have missed it? The General has high cheekbones. That makes me want to say that the Cherokee connection could explain a lot about why General is often on the “war path”, but truthfully she is not. On the other hand, if she reads this blog, she may be.
She is a smart lady. The simple discussion related to family lineage and bloodline obviously has awakened a desire to know more. The General bought a new book to read this week. It is entitled “The Trail of Tears” and it chronicles the story of the Cherokee nation and their mistreatment. In 1838 and 1839, as part of Andrew Jackson’s Indian removal policy, the Cherokee Nation was forced to give up its lands east of the Mississippi River and to migrate to an area in present-day Oklahoma. The Cherokee people called this journey the “Trail of Tears,” because of its devastating effects.
Who knows what surprises the ancestry.com folks may have in store for both of us? It won’t change anything, but it will be good to know.
All My Best!