An unusual and meaningful activity for your next visit with an elderly relative, plus the chance to snag a FREE bag of persimmons! In this week’s Cedar Street Times column, “Keepers of Our Culture,” Patricia Hamilton shares the story of a memorable visit with her Aunt Mary.
DNA Mission: Magic in a Tube to Nurture Our Nature
As many of the readers of this column know by now, I’m enthusiastic about the many benefits of DNA testing. It’s inexpensive and online, easy, fast and painless, and provides you with a wealth of genetic information—a roadmap of where you’ve been through the centuries and insights into family traits that will help you “nurture your nature,” and your children’s too.
If you have an elderly relative in your life, I’d like you to also consider the importance of having that person tested before it’s too late. Yes, traces of DNA from hundreds of years ago can be extracted and analyzed—remember the news of finding the remains of Richard III under a parking lot in Leicester, England, a few months back?—but why not do it now, with a simple $99 kit available on Ancestry.com and while the relative is still around to share in the excitement of the results?
Mission Aunt Mary Success!
With that mission in mind and with kit in hand, I visited my 96-year-old Aunt Mary in a nursing home in Hughson in the San Joaquin Valley over the Thanksgiving weekend.
It went very nicely and very quickly. I found Mary’s nurse at the nurse’s station and she immediately agreed to help. Nurse Kelly was great throughout and Mary was cooperative—didn’t mind at all, and even ended up helping us capture the required quarter teaspoon sample of her saliva.
Starting out, Nurse Kelly told her to spit into the tube that I held up to her face. Mary looked askance at the tube and couldn’t understand what “spit” meant, so the nurse wrote it big on paper. Still no clue. I brought a cup from the water fountain and demonstrated—bingo! Slowly … slowly … bit by bit, resting now and then, moving her jaw ever so slightly, working inside her mouth. She was cooperative—and curious: “What’s this for? Why do I have to do this?”
“The doctor wants it. Your daughter Donna ordered it,” I replied with a half-truth.
“OK.” And so it began.
After the last tiny drops reached the black wavy line signaling “enough,” I breathed a sigh of relief, capped and twisted the tube to seal and release the blue DNA stabilizing solution, and shook the tube five seconds according to directions, put it into the plastic collection bag, then into the postpaid mailing box. Mary held it proudly to show for the picture for Donna, who was waiting nervously at home in Washington State to see if we could fulfill the mission. “I did it, Donna!”
Nurse Kelly was kind and helpful, and I’m sure her official presence was the key to Mary’s immediate acquiescence. For Kelly’s assistance, I rewarded her with a box of Aplets and Cotlets, always a San Joaquin Valley tradition and favorite.
A Precious Sample from the Last of Her Generation
I’m looking forward to seeing Mary’s results and how they compare to mine and my brother Bob’s. Aunt Mary is the last of that generation and I’m thankful to her daughter Donna for initiating this DNA sample collection. There’s a Murray lineage mystery going back to the 18th century that our cousin, Pat Murray, in Alaska, is trying to solve. This may help him.
I recommend you do the same with your oldest living relatives, on both the maternal and paternal sides, before it’s too late. And begin to nurture your nature to be the best you can be – of ancestors then and in your life right now.
About Those Free Persimmons …
SPECIAL OFFER!! One free bag of five persimmons, straight from the Murray family orchard in Hughson, for the first 10 people who send a 500 word story about their life and times in PG for inclusion in the book “Life in Pacific Grove.”! Hurry, these will go F-A-S-T! Supply is Limited—story subjects are Unlimited! These lovely, tasty, organic persimmons may be picked up at Park Place Publications, 591 Lighthouse Ave., Suite 10. Write soon and hurry on in to take advantage of this SPECIAL OFFER! Phyllis Edwards, who is contributing a walking tour narrative of PG, complete with locations of all the Little Libraries, has already claimed hers.
December 15—Free Writing Class
The next FREE “PG Writes!” memoir session will be Thursday, December 15, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Little House in Jewell Park. The theme is “Finding Food in PG: Markets, Restaurants, Gardening and Preserving, and the Farmer’s Market.” Don’t miss this chance to have your story included in “Life in Pacific Grove”, a 444 page book filled with stories by and for PG residents and visitors. All proceeds will benefit the Pacific Grove Public Library. Patricia Hamilton is available to give a presentation to your group, book club, service organization, friends and family, and lead a writing session to gather stories, beginning January 15, 2017. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a date and time.