Monday, September 9, 2019

Heinz 57 roots

Trees. All sorts of trees. Evergreen, coniferous, shoe, family, all sorts of trees. The evergreen and coniferous feed the air we breathe. The shoe tree tells us where our shoes are located. And that family tree tells us just who we are and where we came from. DNA is sort a tree. It holds all the things that make up you and me. Things determined way back on that family tree. As the family tree shows our sides of the families, our DNA shows what we get from those families that make up who we are as well as a bit of whom our children will be.

So I did 23&Me as well as Ancestry.com. Of course, my DNA matched on both. I am likely to be afraid of heights, have blue eyes and blond hair, dislike cilantro, be a light sleeper and have a real like for coffee. All true. It was rather like reading a book of me that no one could really know, yet my DNA told the story of me without me telling it. Hm. DNA.

I am a mixture of about every culture that inhabits the earth. I like that I am not a purebred. In fact, none of us are. Can't deny it. It is in our DNA. I found that this information was humbling. It ties me more closely to every person in this world. We all have a tiny amount of us that comes from Africa. I was even tickled to find that I had an equally tiny bit from China. I am a mixed breed! As Dad would say "a Heinz 57".

I have found new cousins and those I haven't seen since I was much younger. I have pieces of my ancestral history filled in, and I can add to that chain with what I have access to. I am on the discovery route to who I am. I am on my discover 'root'.

My son did his history as well. It has been interesting to see what matches and what does not. Obviously, that other half of parent-pairs adds to a new genetic tree. Some of our traits are the same and some are definitely from his dad. I guess we never really know where we came from and who we are without investigating. I know who I am more than ever now because I checked my genes.

Yes, I took root in the past.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Sunsets, kites and pancakes

It crested just past the wave-foam on the ocean. The spray shot up, and I gasped. I had not seen a whale since going to the beach in 1996 when Keiko, and I had our time alone at the Oregon Aquarium. Funny thing that happens when you see a whale. It's rather like when Millie hears the word squirrel. People pick up on the word and look to see where you are looking. Excitement fills the air. I'm not even so sure my ears didn't perk up and my tail wag.

Depoe Bay is a bay, which touts the fact that it is the smallest navigable bay in the world. Not sure if that is true, but it seems right. We decided to pull over out of traffic to take a peek over the railing on the bridge when I sighted the orca. It was cresting just beyond the edge of the sea foam. An awesome experience for us all.

So we took Emma and Nolan to the beach for two nights/three days. If you haven't seen an Oregon coastal beach, you haven't seen the wild beauty of an ocean coast. The place we stayed was just a short walk to the beach. We looked for agates and shells, flew kites, watched the kids climb on the rock-lined beach. Two days we moseyed down to Newport Bay where we watched the fishing boats and ate lunch, looking over a bunch of sea lions playing in the water and sleeping on the docks. It was noisy but delightful. We went to the Oregon Aquarium and discovered what is out there under that water we were playing by each day. Yes, it was wonderful. Then we sat on a hill overlooking the ocean, watching the sunset. The fading sunlight awed and inspired. Would we like a place at the beach? Not now. Hm. Nice to dream.

My grandchildren inspire me to work harder for the environment. We have decided to take our own cloth napkins to restaurants that only use paper. Along with those, we will pack our own take out containers for leftovers. We stopped using plastic straws. The beach is a reflection of who we are and how we care about our impact on nature. Loren carried out cans left from nighttime beach goers. The kids and I talked about our responsibility to the creatures we were seeing. They asked questions as we tried to fill in the blanks.

Making memories is what this grandparenting thing is all about. We aren't just babysitters. We sometimes have to give up sleep or get up earlier than usual. So what!? It is about allowing kids to make pancakes and eat huge ice cream cones. It is about grabbing a child's hand with a kite or two in the other hand. It is about teaching them, but in the long run, us as well. I wasn't much of a parent who had time enough for my kids. Who does? But as a grandparent, I want the time. I can do what their parents aren't able to. I can even hold a homesick girl until she sleeps.

School starts this week. We will miss the kids like crazy. Second grade twins. We wonder how much longer they will want us in their lives. "Wednesday is pizza day," Nolan informed us. "So do you want us to come to lunch every other Wednesday?" I asked holding my breath, thinking maybe we had our last year with pizza on Wednesdays. Emma gave us a big "YES". Nolan reminded us that we shouldn't forget.

My heart has been on a roller coaster. It had been a rough week coming into the days at the beach. Our friend Erika died during surgery when they were trying to give her a new liver. CNN came through, but it was just too late. I lost two friends from Darke County. Barbara Rhoades Motes left us. I am so glad we saw her at the meet and greet. Yes, those hugs count. Clark Lease just passed away. He was Brenda's uncle, but always Uncle Clark to me. My dear friend Sandy lost her father then the next day lost the love in her life. There were more passings and news of cancer in a dear friend all in the span of two weeks. So the time at the beach was much needed healing. Grandchildren make it easier. 

We all influence many lives by the warmth and love we give one another. Sunsets, kites and pancakes, my new mantra for good mental health and well-being.