Saturday, April 1, 2017

. . . And All Because of a DNA Test

What I have to say today may be a premature assumption. I'm too filled with the wonder of it, though, to wait any longer to say something.

It's amazing what turns up when a random person sees those DNA commercials yet another time. Over and over, these genealogy companies repeat their sales pitches. You'd think at some point, people would become immune to the constant sales babble and turn a deaf ear. Apparently, though, the message is getting across to some of the people we'd never dream would take a shine to genealogical pursuits.

One of those people turned out to be one of my nieces. Now a mom, herself, she called me a while back to ask about DNA testing. Turns out, her seven year old has been pestering her with questions about where he came from. (No, not the low-down on the stork story; he really wanted to know his ethnic heritage.) She decided—why not?—to try those DNA tests she had been hearing about from all those commercials.

So now, we mount the steep learning curve. After the fact.

But this is fine. There is nothing so wonderful—at least to someone passionate about her family history—as to discover someone else in the family has fallen in love with the same pursuit.

The other day, another call from my niece. She had just received her test results. What do they mean? And...and...why the surprises? What about those unexpected ethnic traces?

The more we talked, the more another story came into focus. Yes, her son is asking so many questions. But she has questions, too. And they aren't simply about that DNA test.

Listening sometimes is the best antidote to not knowing what to say next. In this season of listening, I discovered something about my niece: she's been fascinated with family stories, it seems, ever since she was a child. She told me how she used to get together with her grandma and ask her so many questions about the family—stories about people her grandmother remembered from her own childhood.

"I just love this stuff." I remember saying that so many times, myself, but this time, it wasn't me talking. It wasn't any of my friends from our genealogical society. It was my niece. Someone in my own family. I'm in awe.

Like any other researcher, after a lifetime of work on these family mysteries, I sometimes wonder if anyone else will value all that I've compiled after I'm gone. Will the discoveries mean something to anyone else? I'm sure you've heard fellow genealogy enthusiasts voice the same concerns. Maybe you've thought the same thing, yourself.

It was quite an eye-opener last week, in visiting with my cousins, to realize that perhaps I was even—unwittingly—the one carrying the research baton to the next goal in this research relay race, for an uncle who had worked on the project before me.

And now, perhaps there will be someone who will eventually see herself as the one to carry our family's story forward to the next generation. Perhaps.

All I know is, first off, before anyone in the next generation picks up that baton and carries it forward, he or she has got to have that spark that propels you forward, that calls you deeper into the project. That curiosity to find out more. When it comes to genealogy, you just gotta love it. Once you've been smitten with that spark, the rest will soon follow after.

I believe someone else in the family has just realized she has that spark.


  1. What a wonderful post. In fact, I think those DNA commercials are more encouraging because they bring genealogy into the mainstream. People who never cared about a quote family tree unquote do show interest in their origins. Yay!

    1. So true, Marian. And encouraging to have more people join us in this quest.


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