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What Happens When You’re Someone Else? Dabbling with DNA

SilouetteFor Christmas this year I asked my family for a DNA kit. Let me just state that my mother-in-law could NOT fathom why I would want to know my DNA background. According to her what’s the  point.

Pilar kindergarten 3

Me,1974?

Well, I guess if I had been adopted this would perhaps be a burning question at some point in my life.

Or if like me you were raised with no contact with your dad’s side of the family. So I was left with my mom’s vague recollections and family folklore. As I’ve mentioned in the past, we moved A LOT!

Add to this the fact that my grandma (The Head of Chaos (GET SMART) as I call her) is the matriarch of the family and is rather sketchy even when she had a good memory. Sketchy in a kind “Witness Relocation” kind of way!

We are a family that doesn’t seem to keep roots down for long. So for me who we are and where we’re from has been a nagging question most of my adult life.

It became more of a question when I had children and they started  writing ancestry type reports in school.

My husbands family has an Uncle George the family genealogist, they have photo’s going back nearly 120 years. Like my friend Barb that can name all the family members in her old family pictures, going back several generations. #Treasure

We have some photos of my grandma as a child, grandpa with my mom, aunts, a few of my own baby photos. I say a few since after the divorce my mother cut my dad out of most of the pictures, which makes it difficult to grasp at memories if he ever held me and loved me?

I have one single photo of my dads family with all my aunts, uncles and grandparents.

Anaya Family

The Anaya Family

My mother can’t seem to remember if my dad is the littlest boy in front or the baby on my grandma’s knee? Or which are my Aunts Marina and Aurora?

But I see a striking resemblance in my youngest daughter to my Aunts, who look like Spanish film stars. The ears are another family trait I inherited, like my brother, who also got the red head gene from my Grandpa Anaya and the Cason side of our family. Or the weird mole on the back of my neck like my brother and my dad, which means I can’t continue to claim my brother was a troll we found under a bridge!

Growing up I was a clone of my father, even mannerisms and personalty according to my mom. She used to say he never met a stranger, which is what my husband says about me.

But when you have unresolved issues with an absent parent and they die before you can grill them about their motives, it leaves a huge empty spot in your life. Not to mention the whole medical history side of family history.

This is not to say I don’t picture this side of the family when I pray during mass for the faithfully departed, but I can’t pray for them by name like I should be able too.

 When you don’t know who or where you come from, pictures and DNA help you like an ancient map.

Silouette

So I finally received the results of my DNA from Ancestory.com and I find out (drum roll) I’m 87% European.

Hun? I thought that would have been spilt a little differently, not what I was expecting at all, maybe 56% but 87%?

Let me be clear that 24% of the “Anaya” DNA comes from the Iberian Peninsula. Spain and Portugal, which I had heard we were Spanish, but most Mexicans claim this and it’s probably not correct. I also expected Ireland( more red hair genes), England, Scotland, France (hello France boarders Spain, who knew!)

But what made me laugh, is the 8% Native American!

Have you ever watched those ancestry shows on PBS? You know where the people are certain, beyond a reasonable doubt that they have a Native American great grandma, and the results are always NO. Zero, Zilch, Do not Pass Go or Collect $200.

But nearly every person of Jewish decent is related to Barbara Walters! (Now that’s just odd). I was holding out hope that I may be a little Jewish, which would have been so awesome to be one of God’s chosen people! No Luck.

People have asked me what if the test is wrong? My answer is this , they have suggested my brother as a nearly 99.9% match (with different last names) and the region of Mexico that they predict I share DNA (Colima & Western Michocián) are within a 100 mile radius (give or take) where I was born and my fathers family lived and probably still do.

So I’m fairly certain that even with my families sketchy lack of history that the test is reasonably accurate.

Which leads me to this question, if I’m not half Mexican like I always assumed then what am I?

I have a joke I tell  “Between myself (1/2) and my 2 (1/4 & 1/4) daughters we make one whole Mexican!” People either laugh or they look really confused. #ItsAJoke

Rats! This means I need a whole new schtick! I can’t call myself the Mexican Vampire that can’t go in the sun. Or claim that alarms sound in every house in Oakwood when I enter the city limits (another joke).

I feel like I may have opened up a Pandora’s box full of questions. But by nature of my birth and birth certificate I am a Mexican, if you count the country of my origin? Why is this so weird now?

Ultimately, I would say I identify as a Catholic foremost, a Mom, a wife and an American, in that order.

Looking at my DNA now I can see a heavy Catholic influence, which my mother discovered when she paid a genealogist to research our family history. My mother said we had been Catholic going back 500 years, then came to America and rebelled against the Church becoming Protestants. #Rebels

I have yet to see this report, my mom is not good with the follow through.

So what about you friends, have you dipped your toe in the DNA testing pool? Let me tell you from my experience, you may be SURPRISED with the outcome.

Your friend,

Pilar the Papist Squirrel

Formerly known as “The Mexican Vampire”

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Cocktails With The Saints

Yesterday I was listening to the Jennifer Fulwiler Show on the Catholic Channel on Channel 129.

http://jenniferfulwiler.com/jennifer-fulwiler-show-sirius-xm/

There hasn’t been a day when I have caught Jen’s show that I didn’t feel smarter, more informed or just encouraged. She typically has the most interesting and fascinating guests on her radio show that she broadcasts from her home that she shares with her husband and their 6 children.

something-other-than-god-fulwiler.jpg

I have a handful of friends that I know that when I spend time with them I feel smarter. All my friends are smart, but some are in fields that are beyond my realm of knowledge.

Like my friend Amy she is a prosector for the City of Dayton, if I had to face her in court as a criminal I would be scared. But since she’s my friend, I feel smarter every time I hang out with her. Phew

Or my friend Terri the science brain, do you see where I’m going with this. I just have amazing friends who are gifted in other areas outside of my realm of ability. But they never make me feel less, in fact they generally make me feel smarter by osmosis!

Is that even a thing? I think so, so it is!

So back to the show, Jennifer had this guest on named Brice Sokolowski who was on promoting his new book “Alms”.

Brice runs a company that helps Catholic organizations fundraise. 99% of his advice is free, because he feels it is his calling. Cool, hun?

http://catholicfundraiser.net

One of the last questions Jennifer asked Brice was “If you went to heaven and met the Saints and they asked your name, what century you were from and what heresy you fought? What would you say?”

So Brice who is from the great state of Texas, and now resides in the south of France with his family , said

“If I got into heaven God willing. I picture it like a cocktail soirée with fabulous cheese and wine. But I would have to say (since they were short on time, they skipped the century and name part) the heresy I fought was relativism and defense of the family”

WOW!

That is such an amazing question, what would your answer be? That just had my mind racing.

In my earlier life I was an agnostic. I did NOT believe in Jesus, but I did believe that there was a God or Higher Power. Which also led me to believe I was Prochoice. I thought abortion should be a last resort, but a “choice” none the less.

Cut to me 15 years later, before I was pregnant I really started to question, at what point was abortion just morally wrong? Was it after the 1st trimester? Certainly after the 2nd that was just reprehensible to me and late term abortion was just not even an option open for any type of discussion.

Once I started thinking this way, I just kept going further and further back in the development of a human baby. Until ultimately I concluded that life is life when there is a heartbeat, DUH!

Oh man I was on a slippery slope then. Cut to me pregnant and attending mass. Just listening and not understanding anything about the Faith, but listening and trying to keep up with all the kneeling, standing, and responses that everyone seemed to know by heart.

Somewhere along the way God lite a tiny ember in my heart that would become a raging BONFIRE for Jesus and all things relating to the Catholic faith. #crazy

Soon I had 2 kids that were in school and I discovered I was pregnant after 40 and I was beyond overjoyed! I suffered a miscarriage at 13 weeks and delivered our daughter Mia.

She was perfectly formed with fingers and toes and a tiny dimple in her chin like her sister. 13 weeks this was a shock to me I had no idea, this is how babies developed so quickly.

Our family was grief stricken and devastated. It changed me forever and I never thought I would be happy again, but from her brief life our little Saint changed our lives.

Prior to losing our baby we had been Prolife, for the most part. But seeing her little body, changed all that. It proved beyond any shadow that this was a human being NOT some “clump of cells” as some would try to make you believe.

ultrasound-baby

I share my story often and each time it’s easier, because miscarriage is not something people want to discuss. It’s a sad personal tragedy, but if I share my story I may help another family in their grief.

Over the weekend I ran into a couple that spoke at our parish about the loss of what would have been their 6th child Isabella, 2 weeks before her due date. The cord wrapped around her neck and she died in utero.

This family shared that they saw this baby’s life touch so many people even though she never lived outside her mom’s body. Their truthful and heart wrenching story helped me heal. The saw so many graces come from this brief little life and God’s plan continues to unfold for them.

So if I make into heaven by Gods grace and a Saint were to ask me what heresy I fought against. I will be able to answer with a resounding certainty I fought for the sanctity of life from conception to natural death.

I may not have gone with the flow of what society claims to be a “choice” or what feminist rally against government for “controlling” their bodies.

But as a woman and a mother I will stand up and share my story and the truth as I know it. I will be the voice for the voiceless in what should be the safest place on earth, the womb.

I pray I share my story with love and compassion, so that it might change even one heart.

Every time I attend mass I pray fervently for an end to abortion.

So what would you say when asked by the Saints at the great cocktail party in the sky? What heresy did you fight?

God Bless you,

Your friend

Pilar The Papist Squirrel.