Hi everyone. I hope those who observed had a pleasant Memorial Day. We had gorgeous weather again. I meant to write a blog post, but got bogged down with moving more of my music and ended up really annoyed and frustrated. Then, I couldn’t think of anything worthwhile to write about. I decided to take the day off of blogging, which was a good idea. Today, I’ll probably write two posts. I have a book review to write after I write today’s fresh content.
About a week ago, I pissed off a relative by marriage by ranting about an unfortunate interaction we had. She ended up blocking me on social media. I would like to say that I wasn’t still upset about that incident, but that would be a lie. However, as the days have passed, so has the “sting” of that situation. Especially given what happened yesterday. It was very exciting!
Several years ago, I sent in my DNA to 23andMe. A couple of years after that, I sent in a sample to Ancestry.com. I’ve gotten several benefits from sending in my samples. First of all, I’ve learned more about my origins aside from the United States. I always knew I was very English, but the DNA tests have shown just how concentrated my origins are… and instead of being English, it turns out I’m actually much more of a Scot. And it really makes sense, too, given my looks and personality. I always feel very much at home when we visit Scotland.
And secondly, submitting my DNA has put me in touch with other people in my family… people I have never met before. They all have fascinating stories! That’s especially exciting for me, as someone who likes to write.
Two people who contacted me turned out to be the offspring of an affair my great uncle had. I never knew him, because he died six years before I was born. But it turns out my grandmother’s brother, who was from Natural Bridge, Virginia, had a relationship with a woman who had gone to my alma mater (Longwood University– then called the State Teachers College) before he married his wife. She got pregnant, and they had a baby girl, who was put up for adoption. The baby was raised in Roanoke, Virginia, and never knew she was adopted until she was a young woman who was working in Washington, DC. She later got pregnant out of wedlock by a man from Ecuador, who was also working in DC. When she told her mother, she said “You’re just like your real mom!”
Instead of putting the baby girl up for adoption, the young woman raised the child, and then married and had another daughter with her husband. Years later, that baby girl submitted her DNA, hoping that maybe she might run into some of her natural father’s relatives, since she’d never known him. She always thought she was half Ecuadorian. Imagine her surprised when she found out that, actually, she was half Ashkenazi Jewish! Her bio dad’s family must have moved to South America in a bid to escape Hitler, or something. Anyway, she and her half sister contacted me for information about my great uncle, who was their grandfather. I was sorry I couldn’t put them in touch with my grandmother, who lived to be almost 101 years old and could have given them so much information. Or even, my aunts and uncles could have talked to them… but a lot of them have died.
Another relative I “met” through DNA testing was my mom’s first cousin, Pat, on her father’s side. Pat was born at about the same time my mom was, in the late 1930s. We became Facebook friends, and I was delighted by her, because she was refreshingly liberal, unlike so many on my dad’s side of the family. I never had the chance know most of my mom’s kin, since my grandparents on that side of the family died when I was very young. I did know my mom’s much older brother, who died at age 90 in 2015, and I met my one cousin on that side a few times. The last time I saw my one maternal cousin, Sue, was at my wedding in 2002. As far as I know, she still lives in Lexington, Virginia, which is near where a lot of my dad’s family lives.
I really look like my mom’s side of the family. It was especially apparent to me, especially when I first saw photos of Pat, where some of my looks came from. Pat looked a lot like my mom! They have very similar smiles. My mom used to say I looked a lot like her mother, and that was the only way she knew I was her kid (the age before DNA tests, of course). She was kidding, and said that when I was misbehaving or being obnoxious, which was a lot of the time. But now that I’ve seen pictures from her dad’s family, I can see that I got some of his side’s looks, too.
Pat was a very prolific Facebook poster, but I recently noticed that I hadn’t seen any posts from her. I got yet another message on Ancestry.com yesterday, this time from a man in Georgia named Warren, who is the grandson of my mom’s Aunt Bessie. I went to Pat’s Facebook page to see if I could connect them. That’s when I found out that Pat died a few days ago. It seems like it was very sudden, although she was in her 80s. Pat was the daughter of Bessie’s brother, and my mom’s uncle, Herbert. Mom didn’t know either of them that well, as her father, Carl, had moved from the family hometown of Marion, Virginia.
One person that both Pat and Warren knew, and I too remember, was my mom’s Uncle Walter. Walter always dressed well and drove nice cars. He lived in northern Virginia and had a beautiful home. Herbert had also moved to northern Virginia, but died in the late 1960s. Walter used to visit us occasionally, until age and fragile health made visiting more difficult. He died in the late 1990s.
I spent a good portion of yesterday trading information with Warren. I sent him the PMs I shared with Pat, which had some family lore in them, and I forwarded a couple of photos I have available in Germany. I have more photos, but they are in storage in Texas. Maybe someday, I’ll be reunited with them, and all the other stuff we left back home.
Warren sent me several photos of my mom’s dad’s family, along with some information about the people within the images. I had heard a little bit about some of the people who were pictured, although it was kind of strange to realize that I wouldn’t be here without input from some of those folks. It was also interesting to share what little I did know about my grandfather’s family with Warren. Like, for instance, our great grandmother, Viola, was known for being a bit eccentric and spending a lot of time in her garden. She grew herbs. The one photo I have of myself with my grandfather was taken in 1975 or so, just before we moved to England. I was a toddler. We were all in Granddaddy’s beautiful garden… I guess I would have called him Granddaddy. My mom called her father, “Daddy”. I wonder if he learned to garden from his mother, Viola. Or maybe that was my grandmother’s garden. I get the sense that it was my grandfather’s project, though. My mom said he was always a very gentle, nurturing soul.
I called my mom to tell her about Pat. They’d had a phone call a few years ago and traded stories. Mom was shocked, because she had just been thinking about Pat… as I had. She was thinking she should get in touch with her. Pat lived in Washington State, though, and my mom lives in Virginia. Mom also doesn’t use computers. They would have had to connect on the phone, and I don’t think my mom is quite as good at keeping in touch as she once was. She was sad to find out that Pat has passed. I think they would have been great friends if they’d had the opportunity to connect more.
I never expected to expand my family tree so much when I sent in my DNA samples. I haven’t heard from anyone in my Grandma Elliott’s family, who come from Lynchburg and Amherst, Virginia… but as I explained to Bill, Grandma Elliott’s family was a bit more “feral”. Or so I’ve surmised, based on things I’ve dug up on the Internet. I wish I had known my grandparents on my mom’s side, especially since I seem to take after them, at least in appearance. But I think it’s pretty awesome that I can meet relatives I never knew through DNA tests now… I know not everyone feels that way, though. Especially those who have any “skeletons in the closet”.
Bill and I had planned to go away for the holiday weekend, but I’m glad we didn’t. I was home, and able to easily share what few genealogy clues I have with Warren.
Well, I think I’ll end this post and write my book review. Then, I’ll get back to the pain in the ass task of moving more of my music library. One nice thing that has come of that chore is that my HomePod seems to be playing some stuff I haven’t heard in ages. Both of my computers are on the same network, so it seems like the HomePod would have access to everything, anyway. But, for some reason, moving the files seems to have awakened the deepest cuts in my collection. It’s pretty cool.