Now What?

by Laura

I sold The Last House. Number Twenty-Two. The Dream House I had waited for all.those.years.  I wept as I sat at the title office, signing the papers. My Daughter and my Sister-in-Law had found a cute little patio home for me; smaller, easier to manage, where the grass would be cut and the sidewalks shovelled. I was ready to downsize, anyway. I’d been rattling around this big house, alone, with all the accumulated detritus of the last 30 years:  my stuff, Diane’s stuff, Mom and Dad’s stuff, and Rick’s stuff. I was in overwhelm, although I don’t remember admitting to it.

In the ensuing decade, another Daughter married and I had three more GrandSons. It just seemed to flash by, even as I worked through the changes the previous decade had wrought, including a massive, all-encompasing depression. I eventually crawled out from under that particular demon.

And I met someone. Someone special. Rick had prayed, from the moment he knew he was very, very ill, that God would send me a “good and godly man”; someone to care for me, since he wasn’t going to be able to do that. God did. David and I were married between GrandSons and I not only gained a Husband, but four more Kids, and, eventually, four more Grandkids.

The back burner continued to simmer.

At one point, a friend asked me to help her make heads-or-tails of an old family mystery. In the course of this, I shared with her my paperwork; what I had learnt about St Vincent’s, and who I speculated the elusive Charlotte McManus could be. As we searched for her answers, we searched for mine extending out to neighbouring states. Still nothing. We couldn’t find anyone even close to an approximately reasonable age-range anywhere close to Chicago.

Then one day, a few years after these half-hearted attempts (driven more by the curiosity of friends than my own), another friend of mine whom I call “The Intrusive Genealogist”(Hi, Denise!) mentioned Ancestry and their autosomal DNA test. Remember Sophomore Biology? from that time, I had begun to gather information about the family I knew, building a Family Tree. Ancestry has all sorts of records and databases that aid this sort of search. So that’s what I had been doing; building trees with what I had always known.

So. atDNA. What’s that? From ISOGG:  “Autosomal DNA is a term used in genetic genealogy to describe DNA which is inherited from the autosomal chromosomes. An autosome is any of the numbered chromosomes, as opposed to the sex chromosomes. Humans have 22 pairs of autosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes (the X chromosome and the Y chromosome).” Uh-huh. Say again? Basically, this is the genetic material you inherit from your ancestors. How much you get from any one ancestor is pretty random; but you get will get a recombined amount of 50% from Mom and 50% from Dad. One of the selling points, at least for Ancestry, is an atDNA test can offer  you some information about your ethnicity. I had always been told I was Irish and German. Was that true? Am I really?

The Intrusive Genealogist hands me a test (she is very keen on genealogy and always has spares…) and encourages me to “go for it”. The test is simple enough. Register the test identifier on Ancestry, spit in the tube, wait for results. No biggie.

But then there was the under-the-water part of this iceberg of which I was absolutely clueless and which had failed to be made very, very clear. Like, there’s an iceberg???

David and I were on what has become our Annual Trek to California. On the motorcycle. In 2015. When the back burner suddenly began to boil over.