DNA – putting the fun back in dysfunction.

I wrote a few weeks about investigating my ancestry. Since then I’ve garnered some unexpected and interesting circumstances to consider.¬†IMG_0097

In the past two weeks I learned that I have a very close familial DNA connection with someone I never knew existed.

I don’t really understand DNA jargon and numbers and probabilities. I decided I must pay dues and join an ancestry community in order to learn as rapidly as possible. It’s slow going. There’s much to learn and it requires untold hours of my time. I know that DNA is a scientific study and I have great respect for science. It seems to me, though, there are an awful lot of variables. I don’t yet have a grasp of what’s for sure and what’s iffy (for lack of a better term). I think I need help – a tutor maybe?

Here’s the deal – I have a match so close that she almost certainly has to be my sister or my niece. The match is on the paternal side of the family. I imagine you see where I’m going with this. I have one brother (deceased) and a father (deceased). I obviously cannot ask either of them the defining question. The birth mother is not known. Well, she is known by someone. The information is in a sealed record in Raleigh, our state capital. Closed adoptions were common (maybe even the law?) in the 1960s.

It seems unconscionable that my new relative cannot get access to this information. I ¬†suppose the biological mother would have to give consent if she’s still alive. All other parents and possible parents are deceased, including the adoptive parents. My sister/niece is not asking, nor is she expecting, anything from her biological family. She wants to know that she has roots. It’s not too much to ask.

I haven’t met her yet except by telephone, text, and Facebook. She looks like us. She’s seems nice and kind. She’s intelligent. The rest of the family would probably be drawn to her if we were at party. She has a sense of humor – that runs in the family. She has our wide grin. I’ve told her about some of our quirks and familial dysfunction. It didn’t scare her.

We could use you, S, to help put a little fun in our dysfunction. We’re looking forward to meeting you in person.

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Ancestry – What’s in your DNA?

Recently I spit in a test tube and had my DNA examined. I thought it would be interesting to know a little more about my ancestors. I can’t say I learned anything new. Heck! I didn’t even validate what I thought I already knew.

I was not particularly thrilled with the results. I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina so, of course, I was hoping for a smidgen of Cherokee. Nowadays I think most North Americans wish for a little Native American. Why is it we pine for a drop of native Continue reading

Helpless and hopeless? Not for long.

pexels-photo-457563.jpegHelpless and hopeless is how I feel after every mass shooting. It takes several days to get a grip, especially when the killing takes place in a school.

School shootings are personal. I am a retired teacher.

As the faces of victims cross my screen, I see eager, bright teenagers on the cusp of adult life. Most are ready to conquer the world, to do good, and they sparkle with life. I know them even though I don’t.

Then I see the faces of teachers and administrators who have sacrificed themselves. I know them too. Most educators I have known would instinctively protect their students from harm. I can visualize the coach down the hall opening his locked door to offer safety to running children. I can easily imagine the young English teacher attending to an injured child or colleague.

It is all so sad and unnecessary, so I lick my wounds briefly and then I start to see fiery-red waves of anger. Anger is good for a time. It can be a good motivator. It almost always pushes me to act.

I see anger red when Paul Ryan appears on the news telling us not to have a knee-jerk reaction. Let me tell you something, Mr. Paul Ryan. If it were your dead child lying in a pool of blood you would change your tune. Please don’t ever say that again.

I see red when Thom Tillis of North Carolina (my state) says he is praying for the families. Take your prayers and shove’em, Mr. Tillis, until you’re ready to give up NRA money and take a stand against the AR-15.

I see red when President #45 addresses the Parkland community, vaguely mentioning mental health, but offering no solutions, thus putting an onus on the students for not monitoring the gunman’s social media activity. It’s nice of you to make an appearance among them, though I imagine you’ll stop by on your way to play golf at Mar-a-Lago. And by the way, how much money has the NRA contributed to your follies?

Here’s the thing, the NRA would like to keep us licking our wounds and wringing our hands. Well, listen up National Rifle Association, that’s not what real Americans do. We see red, we get angry, and we fight for change. We fight to elect citizens who will work to enact responsible gun laws and campaign finance reform. This fight is not about taking away anyone’s guns. It’s about money. Do you think we don’t know that?

The pendulum is swinging, the clock is ticking, and the NRA assault on America’s children is coming to an end. That’s how democracy works.