⚡ October 27, 2017
The Mysteries of Aunt Mary 🔍
At least one of my close family members has succumbed to the commercials on TV and has sent her saliva cross-country in a vial. Now she believes the resultant DNA report because she’s invested in it. I have two really big problems with this.
1. The Conspiracy Theory
I’ve read science-fiction stories since my youth, and I have also spent ten years in the UFO and otherwise paranormal field. Perhaps more than ten years, actually, and perhaps I’m still stuck in reverse, but the voluntary donation of your precious squamous tissue … into the vast files of an unknown corporation … this sounds like the prologue to a very dystopian tale.
Let’s say that all the stories about the eugenics movement in this country are true. Let’s say that some folks still dream of a race of thoroughbred people, custom-created to rule the earth and its undistinguished masses. If such a group of believers exist – and we know they do, at least on the fringes – then their mission would be to hire scientists and learn all about the genome and experiment with whatever delightful helix-twisters they could devise to ensure a superior (whiter) human race.
And what better way to cull the world’s population than to unleash a designer virus or two that will target only those who are currently at the bottom of the genetic tree of life? Maybe you want to do away with pesky Lithuanians or just about any of the dusky races? Do you see what I mean here? If you send in your DNA, you could end up in one of those endless rooms of file cabinets that you see on the X-Files and your unique markers could be sitting ducks for the apocalypse.
So, there’s that. My second conspiracy theory is even darker because it’s probably not intentional, but rather inevitable as we careen toward the more mechanized, less humanistic world of believing in screens and trusting in interfaces instead of talking to your gran.
2. Breaking the Bonds
The elders in my family were as dysfunctional as can be. At every funeral we would learn something scandalous about the relatives and the hidden, secret flings that were kept carefully hidden away between the tablecloths in the cedar chest. My beautiful Aunt Mary, the tall lady in the photo, was one quiet ghost who still haunts my life today. I know little about her, and she is always shrouded in awe. She was a seamstress and a spinster. It was said, with great reverence, that she “worked herself to death.” No higher honor in an Italian family.
She was also my godmother when my 20-year-old mother gave birth to me, and I like to think that she was kind and didn’t ostracize my mom because she’d only gotten married six months before I was born. Where is my Aunt Mary in my DNA? And what about the stories my grandmother told me about defecting to the United States when she was touring with a Latvian opera troupe? These stories have to be handed down; they must be transferred. They hide on the DNA and grow like memes, spread by word of mouth. They bind the family together with shared mysteries. I hope they are real, but I have no solid proof.
Speaking of solid proof, my niece’s DNA test showed a rogue amount of Irish heritage, but with absolutely no colorful story or piece of embroidery attached. 🐔