September 21, 2016


Oh gosh, the A-N-T-I-C-I-P-A-T-I-O-N is just killin' me.

I've been anxiously (and impatiently) waiting for my mom's medical records to show up in the mail. I ordered them from 3 different places.

Today, WakeMed called to ask a few questions and said they'd be mailing records including her blood type TODAY. They wouldn't give me the blood type over the phone, dang it.

I might know as soon as TOMORROW if Mom is potentially my biological Mom.

Dad's blood type = O+
My blood type = A+
Mom's blood type = must be A+ or she can't be my mom

If she is A+, then I can at least leave her on my list of potential biological mothers. If she isn't, she falls off the list and I'm in a bigger tizzy than I am now, but at least I'll have a definitive fact. Right now, definitive facts are in mighty short supply.

In the meantime, enjoy Carly's blast from the past. I was 12 years old in 1971 and in middle school at Jacksonville Junior High School in...where else...Jacksonville, NC. I wasn't allowed to listen to Rock and Roll but would sneak my little transistor radio into bed with me and listen to it under the sheets. WKIX in Raleigh. Now THERE is a blast from the past!

September 20, 2016

What is Inheritance?

My beautiful and wonderful friend Cyndi pointed me toward this really cute two minute animation on how we get our DNA. 

Perfect for beginners and for those of us who get things scrambled in their head and need to come back down to earth (ie real science). 

Check out my little buddies below by clicking here. 

September 16, 2016

Read a Book: The Stranger in my Genes

My DNA quandary has led me to read books and watch TV shows that never would have caught my attention otherwise. 

TV. Really. I can take it or leave it. I usually leave it. I almost always regret whatever time I've spent watching TV. It rots the brain, you know. I have enough issues in that department.

On the up side, I've just finished an excellent book entitled The Stranger in my Genes. It was a short but powerful read  by Bill Griffeth, the financial wizard who leads us through the finance news each day at 3pm on CNBC just before the closing bell. 

Who knew he was an amateur genealogist?

AND who knew he experienced a great DNA surprise similar to mine? Bill discovered his dad wasn't his dad. He explains the emotions and process a thousand times better than I ever could. 

Bill drives home the point that if you must have your DNA analyzed, you should be prepared for the results, whatever they may be. DNA is science. It's real. It does not lie or tell stories. It doesn't care if it turns your world upside down.

Have a read. Especially before mailing off your DNA test. 

September 14, 2016

Ummm...we have a problem. A DNA problem. A big one.

Oh. My gosh. I've got a real mystery on my hands. A big one that will impact nearly 30 years of diligent genealogy research. Not to mention my psyche.

On a lark (and also to benefit my research), I took a DNA test. Results say I'm 40% Ashkenazi Jewish.

Ok. Took another test. 43% Jewish Diaspora. Huh.

Took a 3rd test. A whopping 47.7% Ashkenazi Jewish. Nearly 50%. Half. 

What does this mean? 

It means I'm 1/2 Ashkenazi Jew. You get 1/2 of your DNA from each parent. One of my parents was...Ashkenazi Jewish (AJ). Neither of my parents were AJ.

My son tested at 25% AJ. Exactly what you would expect if a maternal grandparent was nearly 100% AJ.

Why is that significant? 

Neither of my parents were of Jewish descent. Or my grandparents. Or my great grandparents. Or my great great grandparents. I know this for a fact. Although I can't DNA test dead people, I know these folks through and through. I can't know their ethnic origins, but I know they were all dyed in the wool Baptists. Every last one of them. Devoted Baptists.

Anyhow....50% means a PARENT. My mom or dad.

What does this REALLY mean?

It was hard to say out loud at first, but now I can say that it means one of my biological parents is unknown.

Was it mom? Maybe. She was "adventurous", shall we say.  However, we do know she was in fact pregnant at the right time and I have a certified birth certificate to show I was born to her and dad.

Was it dad? Maybe. He suffered serious war injuries. Could he have been sterile? They had been married 7 years when I came along. They've told me they had been trying since their wedding day to have a baby. They were unable to have other children, making me an only child.

Was I switched at birth? As ludicrous as this sounds, the answer is "maybe". Maybe. 

The Experts

I'm leaning heavily on my "DNA friends" to help me figure this out. One friend thinks it's on my maternal side, which lends a tad more more credibility to the "switched at birth" scenario. 

Together, we are chasing a lot of leads. I'm doing every single thing one of them tells me to do. 

I've requested both parents medical records from every hospital and doctor I can think of who may have treated them. 

Dad's blood type was O+. Mine is A+. I don't know mom's yet, but if it's not A+ then we know for a fact she is not my mother. A blood fact.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that my mom and dad gave me a wonderful childhood. Every family has their issues, but as things go, my issues were few. I was a well-loved and well-raised little girl. I will love my parents until the end of time. No matter what. 

Sure ain't.

August 7, 2016

My DNA Craze

I've become a DNA convert.  I didn't dabble in DNA before because, frankly, it intimidated me. And for good reason!  

The topic is complex and the learning curve steep. But I'm putting one foot in front of the other and learning as I go. I don't need to know everything about DNA to just get started. Right?

There are 3 major DNA tests. I've already done AncestryDNA and I'm waiting for results from 23andMe. I've tested my son with AncestryDNA (results pending) and I'm trying to convince him to also test with FamilyTreeDNA, but he is having a hard time understanding why we should spend another $69 on DNA testing. 

He asks "haven't you already done the family tree"?  And then there's "I've already done one test, why do I need to do another"?  If I pushed hard enough, he'd give in and do it. But I don't want to push him into it. I want him to understand the answers to his own questions. But I'm just a DNA fledging and I can't always answer him in a way that satisfies him. Or my answers lead to more questions. Wish he wasn't so dang smart that he wants to poke holes in all my answers!

I've already connected with a couple of cousins and that makes me very very happy. However, DNA has deepened the mystery of my Ashkenazi Jewish heritage, which just makes me even more determined to get to the bottom of it.

I'm attending a DNA Special Interest Group weekly and an intro and more advanced all day workshop. After all that...I'll be pretty DNA literate. I hope. 

July 10, 2016

It was a Nation's Flag

Forgive me. I ask you right up front. Forgive me. 

Why? Cause I'm about to express my opinion about the Confederate flag.  Politically incorrect, I know. And I also know I'm a little late to the party, as usual. But here we go....

Let me just say that I do not get the defilement around this flag. It was once our country's flag, for those who lived in the south, even though that entity ceased to exist 130 years ago. Still.

It was a nation's flag. Not a symbol of hate or ignorance. While I - like most everyone else - abhor the slavery of another human being, it's not totally about the south's desire to keep slaves, although that was indeed an economic issue and the driving force of the War Between the States. 

Further, I totally agree it should NOT be flown above the South Carolina State House. That place of honor should be reserved for the United States Flag.  What are those hillbillies thinking?

I get just a tiny bit offended when I read of the desire to erase this flag from our memories and our nation's history. I identify so strongly as a southerner. This flag is a large piece of my family's story which I've spent nearly 30 years trying to piece together. It's part of my own personal history, thanks to my many ancestors who served in the Confederacy.

It infuriates me that this flag has been so abused and misused by organizations of hate, like the Klan. Neither should it be an emblem in the Civil Rights Movement, in my small but strong opinion OR the mascot of Ole Miss being waved furiously at football games, for Heaven's sake. 

It was a flag that once represented a nation, an idealism, and the ole genteel South.  It's part of our past and present culture. Why do we need to assign any other premise of semiotics to it?

Answer: We don't. 

May 23, 2016

So got my DNA test results back...

So I finally got my DNA test results back. And BOY OH BOY was I surprised!

40% European Jewish. Specifically, Ashkenazi Jew. Seriously?  I guess the data doesn't lie, but who ever would have thought??

What is most amazing about this is that when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, my oncologist specifically asked me if I was of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. I said "no, of western European descent". Which was a kinda dumb answer cause I really didn't know the answer since I'd not done the DNA test. Turns out the kind of breast cancer I had was prevalent in the African American and Ashkenazi Jewish populations. I'm 1% African American. 40% European Jewish. Go figure.

Talk about knocking my socks off. For real.

Not that I have a single thing against being of Jewish descent. But golly...I come from a long long long line of Baptist preachers and moonshiners. There wasn't a Jew in the bunch, far as I knew.

Looks like there was. A Jew in the bunch. How cool!

European Jews were primarily found in Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Hungary and Israel with a smattering in Lithuania, Slovakia, Czech, Romania, Bosnia, Serbia and Estonia.

Ashkenazi Jews made up more than 2/3 of the souls killed in the Holocaust. Albert Einstein was an Ashkenazi Jew.  Genetic testing is highly recommended for folks descended from the Ashkenazi.  They are prone to Tay-Sacks Disease, Breast Cancer, Parkinson's and all sorts of other horrid illnesses. 

Lucky us.

Now I need to figure out what to do with the results. I attending an introductory DNA workshop over the weekend. It was about 75% over my head. The other 25% was very helpful. Hopefully, I can use my test results to connect with lots and lots of cousins who are rich in family information and pictures!  Keeping my fingers crossed.