“I’m going to do it.”
“Do what? My husband looked over from where he reclined on the sofa.
“Take the DNA test.”
“Why?”
“Because I want to see where I come from?”
“I can tell you that. You came from Iowa.”
“No, not where I was born. I want to find out if I really am Scottish, English on my mother’s side and German on both sides. And…if there’s any truth to the family’s oral history that we have Sioux blood.”
“Yeah. With your blue eyes, blonde hair and fair complexion, I’m sure there’s a strong bloodline there.”
“Very funny. You’re just jealous you don’t have any Sioux coursing through your veins.”
“Highly unlikely. Strictly Jewish from Russia and Turkey.”
“Okay, so maybe you think you’re a pure breed, but I’m sure you’re as mongrel as I am. Don’t you want to find out?’
“Nope. As they say, “Ignorance is bliss.” There’s a reason they say that, you know.”
“Oh, you have no sense of adventure. Besides, you already gave me the kit for Christmas so I’m going to do it.”
The next day I put my DNA sample in the mail and sent it back. And waited. And forgot all about it.
Several months later a large envelope arrived. The results from my DNA testing. I brought the packet into the living room and placed it on the dining room table. When my husband came home, he saw it. “It’s here. So why haven’t you opened it? Were you waiting until I got home?”
“Not exactly.”
“Then why exactly?”
“I’m not sure. Now I’m not sure I want to find out. I mean…”
He smiled. “Guess you’re afraid to find out you’re not a part of the Sioux Tribe?” He hesitated, then added, “Or are you are really afraid of who your ancestors might be. That’s it, isn’t it.”
I nodded. “What if I’m from some part of the world I don’t want to be a part of?”
“And what part of the world would that be? I’d say all nationalities have their pros and cons.” My husband looked at me closely. “So maybe you’re afraid your relatives came from Africa.”
“Now that’s ridiculous. I don’t look African, any more than I look Native American.”
“Well, there’s only one way to find out. Open the envelope.”
“Okay. I’ll do it tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow then.”
That night I thought about the contents of that envelope. What if I found out my ancestors were Senegalese, or from Somalia? Was that so bad? Would it change who I was? Would it change my perspective on things? I wasn’t a racist. I had friends of every color and creed. But I knew I might have a few prejudices. I grew up in a very conservative community. We had no Asians and very few blacks. Our minority group were Italians. They were the ones we snubbed our noses at. As I said, very white, very conservative. I wasn’t even exposed to a black person until college.
The next morning, I walked into the dining room and saw the envelop right where I’d put it the night before. I went into the kitchen and made myself a cup of coffee, thinking that maybe I should add some whiskey to it, but I didn’t. I needed to be sober.
I opened the outer envelope. Inside were all sorts of charts and diagrams. Enough to traumatize the geographically-impaired. I eventually got to the pie chart created for me. There it was. My ancestral history. Scotland, England, Ireland, France, a chunk of Germany. No surprises yet. And then, there, a tiny sliver, wedged between two similar slivers of Sweden and Lithuania, sat South Africa. But not a trace of any Native American.
Within the packet was a form to sign if you were willing to be contacted by relatives also contained in this DNA history. I checked the “yes” box and mailed it off.
That was six months ago. This morning, as I sipped my coffee, my doorbell rang. I walked to the front door and looked out the small window. An attractive woman about my age stood on the porch. She looked nervous. I opened the door.
She looked surprised for a moment. Then she said in a crisp British accent, “Hello. My name is Kanesha. It seems we’re related.”
I held out my hand. “I’m Laurie. Please come in. I’ve been expecting you.”

2 thoughts on “A Gift That Keeps on Giving by Linda Freedland

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