Yes, everything WAS in that little box... AND IT FOREVER CHANGED MY LIFE!
I have always heard and believed the sayings, “Everything happens for a reason!” & “God has a plan”! I’ve got to say that I am struggling with both of those a little bit right now! Let me start by saying that my perfectly imperfect 2018 was a year filled with changes… The year started with a joyful reconciliation with my Niece… let me clarify without getting into detail that she did nothing wrong that should have ever required reconciliation. Anyway, this reunion of sorts was filled with old conversation, new conversation and her sharing her love of genealogy with me. Genealogy is something that I have always had an interest in doing and set out to do a few years back. At that time I was a really busy mom and my mom offered to take on the tracing for me! We had always been told that we had lots of Native American on both sides of my mothers family (if you saw us you would seriously doubt that) and with a “by the book” “rule following“ son about to apply to colleges, I was curious to know just how much. As a mother with a child applying to colleges for the first time, you want to make sure that they have as many advantages as possible. Needless to say and thankfully, my amazing children did not need any help, because I don’t think my mom ever actually did any tracing! My mom passed away in 2013 and I really think in her wildest imagination, she never dreamed that there would be DNA testing easily available! Now thinking back on my conversation with her over this, she did NOT want me to dive into this at all! In 2013 consumer DNA testing was uncommon and not readily available. But now that it is, I have a feeling many people will open some family closets that are hiding secrets! There was also this little family rumor about my Great, Great Aunt tracing our family tree until she found something she didn’t like and then burning it in the ’80s! This little tidbit is still a mystery and something I can hopefully uncover, but I have learned that as far as I can tell, whatever she found had absolutely nothing to do with me! Who would've thought that doing something as normal as tracing your family's history could turn your life completely upside down! Well, that's exactly what it did! What started out as a journey to find out why my Great, Great Aunt had burned the family tree years ago, ultimately led me to some incredible hiccups in my immediate family tree. My effort at doing the family tracing started in early 2018 shortly after my meeting with my Niece. She is incredible and got me really excited about tracing my family tree by not only offering her help but convincing me how easy it had gotten. She told me that so many people were on it that you could trace really far back.
My mom’s side was pretty straightforward and it wasn’t long before she had her side traced back to the 1700’s! My father’s side was a different story! All I knew was that my grandfather's name was Melvin and I had a photo of him. We really hit a roadblock, as I couldn't find anything about or anyone related to Melvin. The only person that I could locate with the same name was listed as African American and although I was open to the possibility, when I looked in the mirror, I knew something was very wrong. We were stuck on this for a while and finally, she suggested that I do a DNA test so that my DNA results would hopefully connect me with other family members/matches and it would make the validation process of different hints easier and more readily available. I was really having a lot of fun with it, so why not??? I had also found out that my uncle, who was my father's half-brother, was still alive and had said that he had taken a DNA test. Let me mention that my father passed away 2 years ago and that I had not seen him since I was about five years old. The few memories that I had were not good which you probably already know about! Oddly although my uncle was still alive, he had almost no information to give me about my father, so I was so excited about getting the DNA results back! Finally a few weeks later, on a Saturday, I received my DNA results. I had a lunch scheduled with my amazing niece who was helping me figure all this out for Monday. But she started asking me questions immediately… mainly, did I recognize any names on a list that she had compiled! This whole DNA concept is way over my head and when she would speak about it, it didn’t just seem like a foreign scientific language, it was! She told me that she would bring a bunch of documents and diagrams so that it would make it a lot easier for me to understand. She told me with absolute certainty that I was a direct descendant of a certain surname… a last name that I had never heard, EVER! She said she would explain on Monday when we met. We met on Monday… a Monday that I will never forget! We started chatting about different things and she told me that for some reason I did not have any DNA matches on the paternal side of my family anywhere. She was really confused and started asking a bunch of questions. I told her that I had to ask my only source, my aunt! I asked my aunt to ask my ½ uncle if he had kept his DNA results private, she said she would do some research and let me know. Shortly after my call to her, some other questions came up so I sent her a quick text asking her to try and find out a few other things, jokingly including, "I know it's impossible, but is there any chance that maybe my father wasn't my father?" She responded back that she would speak with my uncle and get back to me. To be continued...