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LJI 10 Week 18: Family Harvest

This is my entry for Week 18 of LJ Idol, Season 10 (therealljidol). We partnered up. I wrote about the topic, "The distance between us."

When my belly swelled in my third trimester, feet expanded to Flintstone-sized, you said something so astounding I gulped for a response. "I loved pregnancy. At times, after you were born, I wished I could still carry you that way, safe and cushioned inside." Suffering from sciatica, hip pain and shortness of breath, I could not fathom what you meant.

Memories of joint aches fade, I now realize, and while I still don't think nostalgically of pregnancy, I occasionally pine for those baby days, when my Kung Fu Panda could be cuddled for hours and his troubles were more easily assessed and solved.

Now I am the one sitting poolside, watching an instructor stretch my son's arms forward, push him towards a crawl stroke. First crawling, then running, the movement always away.

Going through your jumbled house, I had hoped to find more writings, tangible proof of your thoughts. Instead, I found hundreds of paintings and pastel drawings, many of them based on photos I had taken. Me, the girl who learned to hold a camera because she could not draw like you. I thought of when we went through Nana's dresser drawers so many years ago -- when you were the age I am now. We found a trove of cards you'd sent her, bundled together with string. "She did love me," you exclaimed in wonder.

In my dreams, I will call you on a spirit phone to tell you about the DNA you gave me. According to Ancestry.com, I am 42 percent Western European (in my case, German, Swiss and French); 20 percent Great Britain (mostly English but also Welsh); 19 percent Eastern European (Polish); and 9 percent Irish. So very close to the percentages you wrote in my baby book, adding up to "100 percent girl." What's more, my genome has matched me to more cousins, whose family trees often share surnames from your side -- Hampton, Hinkle, Gwiazdowski. Already one such cousin has written me to see if we can suss out our exact connection.

Those common strands, I imagine, may carry traits that you possessed. Do these distant cousins befriend strangers while waiting in line? Do they rejoice at planting, weeding and the harvest? Do they enumerate the colors in sunsets, or point out the many shades of tree bark (not just brown, you showed me, but gray and moss green and chocolate and tan)? Do they find, like I do, that playing music helps them work harder?

I hope that's the case. If it is, I will continue gathering the threads -- through DNA and family line -- harvesting your story, your traits, all the better to carry you, soft and protected, within me.

My partner is one of my favorite writers, baxaphobia. You can find her entry here.

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( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 19th, 2017 06:08 am (UTC)
I really need to send in my Ancestry DNA kit. I've heard a lot of people talk about 23andme, but I wonder would it work with just a maternal line.

Like you, I miss the days where I could cuddle my child for hours. Now, she's almost as tall as me, so that's not so easy.

Nice take on the prompt!
May. 19th, 2017 09:32 am (UTC)
My brother used 23andme, but as far as I can tell, the only thing he got out of that that I didn't get from Ancestry.com was information about his supposedly Neanderthal traits. He says it also can connect you with DNA relatives, but the reason I went with Ancestry was that you can also look at their family trees. For example, one of the second cousins I discovered is a descendant of my Pop-Pop's sister! (Which means, I believe, that she's actually a first cousin a few steps removed, not a second cousin, but anyway.) The distant cousin who contacted me gave me steps to follow to compare our DNA through a free service that provides more details about how you're connected. If it works, I might see if my brother can do that, as well. I'm actually a little frustrated with him that he didn't talk to me about it before he did 23andme, because I would have urged him to do Ancestry instead.

I plan to give my dad a DNA kit for Father's Day, because again according to this newly-discovered cousin, it could give me more insight into from where the traits derive.
May. 19th, 2017 03:58 pm (UTC)
This is really good to know. I've got an Ancestry DNA kit that's been sitting here for a year. Guess I should send it off.

I don't have any close male relatives, so I guess 23andme is out.
May. 19th, 2017 07:07 am (UTC)
While your mother may have been uncertain whether her own mother loved her, it's clear she made sure her children knew her love without question.

The richness of that is apparent all over this story. :)
May. 19th, 2017 09:33 am (UTC)
Yes, she did! Even when she got upset with us, you only had to sit in your room for a while before she was at the door, wanting to make up and give us hugs. One of the sweetest people I have ever met.
May. 19th, 2017 11:35 am (UTC)
This is a really touching blend of motherhood and daughterhood that comes as close to anything to explaining something I'll never be able to get. Well done!
May. 19th, 2017 12:09 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much. To me, as I make sense of family history, it helps me to understand the links that we all have between each other. Traits and values that get passed on from generation to generation become clear. I find it comforting.
May. 19th, 2017 03:14 pm (UTC)
I loved the phrase "First crawling, then running, the movement always away." That sums up one of the aspects of being a parent. I loved the way you mixed your DNA information in with the rest of your entry.
May. 19th, 2017 03:19 pm (UTC)
Lovingly done. Wonderfully written...hugs and peace~~~
May. 19th, 2017 03:20 pm (UTC)
I wrote about my experience at Ancestry too for a home game entry! It's pretty amazing!
May. 19th, 2017 06:02 pm (UTC)
You have such a rich way of writing - I always look forward to reading your pieces!
May. 19th, 2017 08:21 pm (UTC)
I like the idea of musing and mulling over this - Those common strands, I imagine, may carry traits that you possessed.
May. 20th, 2017 03:21 pm (UTC)
Beautifully done!
May. 20th, 2017 07:37 pm (UTC)
The ways we echo our family back to each other are fascinating, and I like the reflections of mother to child in this.
May. 20th, 2017 07:57 pm (UTC)
You certainly have a treasure trove of items to mine through your family tree, and it's always inspiring to hear other angles, other details, different stories about what you find when you explore.
May. 22nd, 2017 12:49 am (UTC)
This is very beautiful.
May. 22nd, 2017 02:48 am (UTC)
I love the way you made this about your mother and your son. A close take to my own on the topic. You make me realize how lucky I am to have my mom here now helping us, too. Today is even her birthday. Cheers to an excellent post.
May. 22nd, 2017 07:57 am (UTC)
Beautiful! Full of joy, and discovery. I love your family tree posts!
May. 22nd, 2017 11:34 am (UTC)
Such a wonderful piece. The relation between a mother and daughter is perhaps the most complicated, yet most beautiful.
May. 22nd, 2017 01:14 pm (UTC)
I love the way you start and end at the same point and yet cover the world of things in between it. Lovely read. Well written indeed!
May. 22nd, 2017 05:26 pm (UTC)
I love this.
May. 22nd, 2017 08:14 pm (UTC)
This is so sweet! I love your reflections on your mother and your own child and then wanting to know more about your ancestry. How traits carry on, and which things are actually due to genetics, I find extremely fascinating, so I loved your last couple paragrahs an amazing amount!
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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