The $60 box arrived with the familiar logo of three green leaves. I opened it and read the instructions. 

  1. Spit in a tube.
  2. Seal it up. 
  3. Send it back.
  4. Wait.

I’m not even sure why I bought this. My lineage is pretty clear. Three-fourths German, one fourth British from Carlisle, England up near the Scotland border. Mom was a short, no nonsense woman who cooked up pork with a cream sauce that would make your toes curl. Dad was a burly, curly redhead that could throw a brogue to his voice after a couple glasses of scotch even though he was born here in the states. 

 I had two sisters. Lydia, seventeen years older than I. She was gone by the time I was four so I only knew her from vacations and holidays. She was tall, breathtakingly beautiful and accomplished. A window stylist in Albany, she was always dressed to the nines and gave me the best full outfits at Christmas time. Toes to Tops. I remember one year; her gifts were numbered and I had to open them in order. 1) Black patent shoes with white socks tucked into the toes. 2) A red and green kilt. 3) A white short sleeved blouse with a black ribbon at the neck. 4) A red cape and Number 5) A tartan tam to match the skirt.  My favorite outfit ever. 

Then there was Evelyn. She was responsible for my upbringing as my parents worked. Eleven years older than I and a tough taskmaster, her favorite and my most feared implement of discipline was a wooden butter paddle. Man, that could sting the backs of my thighs. Another tall beauty, as a teen she was pursued by a parade of good looking, greasy haired boys with very white tee shirts and colorful convertibles.

I spit in the tube, sealed it up and put it in the post. 

I waited. For eight weeks, then nine then nine weeks and two days. I finally got an email. The results were in. 

My lineage was clear. 71% Germanic Europe. 25% England, Wales and Northwestern Europe. 4% European Jewish. No African, Native American nor Asian.  No surprises, scandals nor skeletons. 

I checked my Matches. 

There was my sister’s name. Evelyn Warren. I hadn’t known she’d done this. She was listed as “Close family”. I read on. The next three names were listed as first cousins. Julia Sanford, Mary T. Myers and Karen Warren Bailey. 

Wait, Karen is my niece. Evelyn’s daughter. 786 shared centimorgans. I clicked on the possibilities: 1st Cousin, Great-Grandparent/Grandchild, Grand-niece, Half niece. 

First Cousin?

I went back on Evie’s entry.  1,852 shared centimorgans. The possibilities:

Grandparent/Grandchild, Half sibling, Aunt/Uncle, Niece/Nephew. Nothing about a sibling. How accurate are these tests? Do they even list siblings? 

I chewed on this for a bit and recalled that years ago an older cousin mentioned that Lydia got pregnant when she was a teen and gave the baby away. When I was about thirty, I asked Lydia about it. She dismissed me, said it was in the past and there was no point in talking about it. Evie was the key. Now eighty and living in Virginia, I drove down, picked her up and went on a chick trip to the beach. We walked the shore, let the water and sand soften our feet and our defenses.  We ate taffy and oysters, drank iced tea and wine and talked. I told her what I knew. She had no idea. As the days passed and we shared our history, we both reached way back in our memories Evelyn began to recall. She remembered that there were whispers. Secrets. Lydia went to visit Mom’s friend and decided to go to Community College in Poughkeepsie. What was a little hazy in Evie’s mind was that Mom went down to visit her friend and came home with me. And she couldn’t recall Mom ever being pregnant nor talking about a baby on the way. We both thought an eleven-year-old would notice. 

Was there a skeleton. Was it covered in my very own flesh?

My birth certificate says I was born in Utica with my parent’s names. 

Could Lydia have gone to a home for wayward girls closer to home?

Could she have been my mother? Who would be my father?

Why would I have not heard rumors growing up?

Who the hell am I now?

DNA gave me no answers, instead, questions where there had been none. 

Damn DNA

One thought on “Names Have Been Changed to Protect the Innocent by Kathy DeLong

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