My mother keeps me laughing. Late last night, as I was doing the last of the dishes before I went to bed and I got a random text message- ‘I sent you a new one.’ My mother is not good at clear and concise messaging when she has something to say- there is a certain madness level when trying to decode her thought process when excited. It took my father years to learn the secret language, but my younger sister and I were born into the world- so we usually can quickly translate. I checked my email, knowing whatever it was that it was going to be important because it was 9:30 pm my time in Alaska- which is WAY late for everyone else in the world.
A new story! It’s 10:30 pm my mother’s time- I just knew that this one was going to be good, anything written when exhausted is usually funny and random- and she didn’t disappoint me! I laughed until 11:30 pm with mental pictures of my mother’s Monday night events. So, my dear friends, I welcome you to a moment in the life of my mother!
I am keeping company tonight with Roger Whitaker, the song ‘I don’t believe in if Anymore’ plays in the background. He sings to me. Smart man.
I am feeling all the fees tonight.
I cleaned the bathrooms, cried over stories told by the contestants of ‘American Idol,’ and washed dishes. Still, there is nothing left in my current state but to resort to Roger and a blank document in word.
My world is not upside down, but it is tippy. The only way to share is to start at the beginning. Five years ago, I tossed caution to the wind and sent my DNA to 23 and Me. My DNA, my uniqueness- they are my only sole possession.
The process is simple- spit in a cup, seal it up, put it in the mailbox, and several weeks later- 23 and Me revealed my heritage. I confess that I truly hoped to find that my ancestors were from the Maori Tribe in New Zealand, or perhaps they were cliff dwellers living on the Yangzi River banks. What I got instead was an unwelcome shock. I was informed that I had an extraordinarily high percentage of Neanderthal variants.
Yep, you read that right. Neanderthal.
Trust me; it was not a happy moment. I stomped around all night, bellowing about the unfairness of my acquired history. My family tried to ply me with facts- ‘Oh Mom, we all have Neanderthal variants’- which was true, but not really because none of their variants were extraordinarily high. Which is a strange statement since they belong to me- but it’s not the same! Their father’s blood diluted their Neanderthal.
I slightly vowed never to let my hairy arms be seen in short sleeves and to have my face mowed weekly. Over time the sting of my extraordinary high percentage of variants began to fade. That is until my new enemy 23 and Me contacted me and asked- ‘Would you be willing to participate in additional surveys? With your extraordinary high percentage of Neanderthal variants, you could assist in our research. Oh, and by the way, your variants have been recalculated, and you are now in the top 3 percent of people with an extraordinarily high percentage of Neanderthal variants.’
Are you kidding me? I wanted to be a princess from Nigeria or a direct descendent of Thomas Beckett and instead ta-da- Neanderthal! I want my DNA back.
Time does heal wounds; it indeed does! Unless your arch-enemy 23 and Me contacts you another year later and joyfully announces that you have been recalculated once again, and you are now in the top 1% of people with extraordinary high Neanderthal variants. And won’t I please, please participate in their “special” survey?
Their only saving grace is that there was in this report a new finding. 23 and Me determined that I was 49.5% Irish/British. Wait! This is excellent news! I have people, people I can relate with. Perhaps a historian will soon notify me that I am a direct descendant of the renowned Irish poet William Butler Yeats, or maybe one of my eldest’s favorite historical characters- Winston Churchill and Queen Mary of Scotland!
Hope springs eternal. Such was my delight that I forgave 23 and Me and completed their survey. Did I sneeze after eating dark chocolate? I don’t think I do! Did Neanderthals even have chocolate? Is this a scientific question? Much to my surprise, not one question about hairy arms or how often I had to pluck my chin. It didn’t matter! I was 49.5 % Irish/British. Ireland has always been on my bucket list, and I have been planning a trip to London since I was 12 when I had to do a school project on visiting England. I renewed my passport and began the search for my people in Liverpool.
I am not kidding! Sitting on my bedside table are three books on travel to Ireland. Every book I picked up for my Book Club takes place in England. I am now determined to develop a taste for dark beer, even though I haven’t liked beer since I was 17. I am working on getting over my fear of kissing Blarney Stone that thousands had kissed before me. Have those people been tested for COIVD? I wonder!?! The truth is, were it not for the pandemic, I would have made my pilgrimage to every graveyard until my distant relative headstones were found, photographed, and hung on my living wall.
Let me say right here that 23 and Me is very lucky that the world was in quarantine because they would have had to reimburse me the cost of that trip. Not to mention monetary compensation for the time spent learning every word of “O Danny Boy” and hours on YouTube watching bagpipers play Amazing Grace.
It turns out there was a reason I could never narrow down the kilt of my relatives. For you see, I received another letter from my nemesis 23 and Me. They have recalculated my DNA and determined that I am 65.1 % French /German.
Go ahead, do the math. I’ll wait. Your right! It doesn’t add up. It seems that math is not a thing for people who are 1% Neanderthal. We are on a whole new level!
My Irish yearning for pub talks and peat moss fires- dying out like the early morning hours at a bone fire. My secret longing to walk the moors of England- washed away. And reading Shakespeare, what was the point? Do you know how hard it is to read and understand Shakespeare? I put a lot of work into that author! It was all a fantasy; I was crushed. It’s not that I didn’t want to be French, except for that pesky minor issue that they have with keeping their heads attached to their bodies. Germany is okay; I have been there and fell for their castles and autobahn. It’s just that I don’t like sauerkraut …. or beer.
Now I have to rewrite my history…. again. How am I to find my ancestor’s headstones now? In England and Irish, they write in English. The only French word I can read is ‘je ne parle pas francais, ou est le cafe?’ And my German is even worst. I need to sell my books on Ireland and England on eBay and invest anew on Amazon for books on the French and German countryside’s.
23 and Me sent me a separate message thanking me for my previous participation in their unique surveys. It is because of people like me that they are constantly learning and improving their data. Oh, and by the way- would I consider completing another study? I remain in the top 1 percent of people with extraordinary high Neanderthal variants?
I am not lying as I write this last sentence Roger Whitaker is singing O Tannebaum, in German!
My dear friends, if anyone has books on France or Germany, can you please let me know? I need to send them to my mother!