By Elaine Carlson
“One was the only person in his small town to survive the Black Death.”
“What did he do after he survived?”
“My father and I are here.”
I look at him.
“What’s all this genealogy stuff going to mean?”
“My ancestry is important – it has made me what I am.”
“Even if you find some wealthy parts of your family tree,” he said. “And if you find living relatives, I imagine the only thing you could expect to get would be a chance to admire a beautiful house.”
I can’t believe he is trying to lecture me. The only reason I came here was to get a pass for the university library.
“Kiddo, I will give you a pass for six months.”
It is hard for me to believe he wants to help me. I guess today is my lucky day.
“Be sure to keep good records,” he said. “Both what you use and any source they don’t have. They are always looking for excuses to keep our students out.”
I finally decided to get a DNA test. I should have already done this, but I always thought there was not much point in just getting a list of percentages. Now I know from those numbers I can get a good idea of where to look.
It did not take long for me to get the kit. Right away I swabbed the inside of my mouth and returned the test. In just about no tine the results came back.
Soon I get a letter from someone named David Griffith. He said he is with a research group in Seattle studying Swedish descendants. Would I be willing to answer a few questions?
My brother Nathaniel said he thought there was a good chance the letter came from a lab doing forensic research.
“Do you think we can expect a cop coming here to arrest Uncle Bob for murder?” he asked. “Or Aunt Betty?”
He just about died from laughing. I could see how he would think it was funny to imagine Uncle Bob or Aunt Betty being arrested for a heinous crime. It’s just that he overdid the laughter by a factor of a thousand.
Then he got quiet.
“I bet it is more likely Griffith wants you to join his organization,” he said. “Or donate money to genetic research.”
Within a week Griffith called. He said he is a medical doctor researching a certain kind of heart attack people with Swedish ancestry have.
“Dr. Griffith I will be happy to answer your questions.”
“Just call me David.”
I was surprised how short a time it took – he only asked me three questions. I offered to give him the phone numbers for a few of my relatives, but he said that would not be necessary.
I have to admit that soon after we were finished, I almost wished things turned out differently. I know there would have been a big scandal if the police came out to arrest someone in our family. And that would have been awful.
It is just that my imagination went into overdrive when I thought about the possible things that Uncle Bob or Aunt Betty could have done.