DNA Part Seven: End of the Line?

 

 

DNA Part Seven: End of the Line?

OK, I’ll admit it, for the last two years the most I did in my DNA search was to send out four identical, short, thought out letters to the last four known address of my birth mother.  All four were returned “Unknown. Return to Sender.” I began to wonder if I will EVER reach her and started to measure how important it is to me. In 2016, thanks to distant cousins on the Rogers and Rowland side of the family, I attained two complete family trees going back to the 1700’s.  The information holds great gems.  Is it enough?

This month—I have an update.  

 

BUT FIRST A RECAP…

As you may remember from previous posts, my birth mother, Joan, attempted to arrange an adoption through a local Church in the last month of the pregnancy.  Something fell through and the arrangement did not take place. Sometime in January 1968 a foster care worker connected “Baby Girl Tames” with the Farnand family, a young Seattle couple who were recently told they were unable to have children.

In 2016, after taking a 23andMe DNA test in 2014, I find three “cousins”: one from the Rogers, one from the Rowland branch and one from (presumably) my Latin blood fathers side.  Two of the cousins are the genealogists of the family. They unload full family trees going back to Wales, England, some photos, stories, and suddenly—an orphan has a history!  I was numb from it all. In a fog for many months, processing the information and delighted to have “people.” However, not all the news was without tragedy.

In part six I discovered that in 1964, outside of Dallas, Texas, four half-siblings were killed in a murder/suicide car fire by my birth mothers estranged husband.  Mom shows up next in 1967 to give birth to me in Seattle.

 

THIS MONTH

So, this month, I woke up one Sunday morning and decided to try calling a phone number for my mother’s oldest sister.  

Auntie picks up.
We talk for 30 minutes.
Auntie shares that Joan had SIX children after having me.

She is unsure if her 83-year-old sister is still living, but she believes she may have settled in Florida.  She has little other information about my birth mom, except to say she traveled a lot, perhaps to calm herself after the 1964 horrific event.

So now I am faced with the concept of not only *possibly* connecting with my birth mom but also SIX half-siblings!  Joan had twelve children altogether. Big families are common in this line of the family. Mama Rogers, my grandmother, also had twelve.  I guess what they say about everything being bigger in Texas extends to its families as well.

 

Ancestry.com

My Rogers-side cousin has asked me to be added to her tree on Ancestry.com.  That site has a slightly better user interface and is family tree focused. Did you know Ancestry and the LDS church joined officially in 2013, and now hold the planets largest collection of ancestry data, an estimated 16 billion historical records, and DNA collection, supposedly for the purpose of helping the deceased get into the spirit world?

“Many Mormons do family history not only to learn about their heritage but also to find deceased ancestors who haven’t yet been baptized in the Church, and worthy Church members can then be baptized for these ancestors who have died.

When someone dies, Mormons believe a person’s spirit leaves the body. Performing baptisms for the dead is a chance for Mormons to do for those who are dead what they can’t do for themselves.”

( https://www.mormon.org/blog/why-mormons-do-baptisms-for-the-dead )

Many genealogists, Mormon or otherwise, use this paid site.  I’m not Mormon, however, the resources available at Ancestry are tempting.  I would like to discover more about my blood father’s side. I have agreed to upload my DNA to the site.  With my cousin’s information, we may be able to locate more family members.

 

23andMe

Meanwhile, 23andMe continues to send me email alerts that I have “new relatives” to connect with.  These people are almost all third to fifth cousins, which in my opinion are worthless connections.  I currently share DNA, that’s as much as ONE strand, with 1064 23andMe customers. The site is more about health surveys than creating family trees, although you can create a family tree it’s more informative if you can get other family members to buy the kit and register on the site.  The biggest advantage from my perspective is that you may be able to predict the health and features of future offspring. Perhaps, influencing a feature specific baby gift for your niece, “I purchased a blue blanket for your new baby girl to go with her eyes.”

In addition to learning if I have major markers for various types of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, and I can also learn if I am prone to sneezing when a beam of sunshine suddenly hits me in the face, known as the Photic Sneeze Reflex.  Genetic research is discovering all sorts of new genes for fringe stuff like:
Newborn Hair Amount
Cleft Chin
Freckles
Earlobe Type
Asparagus Odor Detection
Widow’s Peak
Bitter Taste Perception
Unibrow
Earwax Type

Rutherford B Hayes (October 4, 1822 – January 17, 1893) was the 19th President of the United States from 1877 to 1881

Since I took the first DNA test in 2014, I’ve learned so much, the mother’s line is British, one branch is Mayflower peeps, via the Francis Cooke line.  On another line, we are related to the Ethan Allan family and the 19th president, Rutherford B. Hayes. Both lines had large families, and there are many branches.  Also, there is an unprovable rumor that we are related to a King of England. Which one is unknown. I’m guessing King Everyman.

 

In Conclusion…

You know what, I’m just not sure I need to know anymore.  I know I agreed to join Ancestry, but I mean, wow, I think my brain is full.  If a half-sibling reaches out, of course, I’d connect. If my birth mother, whose older sister now has my contact information, calls me, of course, I’d talk to her.  I have much to ask, many things to say. But, right now, today— I’m good.

If I learn nothing more from this point forward, I am satisfied with the information on hand.  I know my heritage, about 200 years of family tree history, some basic health markers. MOST importantly I have my own blood—my two adult children. The TWO people in the WORLD right now who I KNOW I am related to. They are my everything. I love them to the moon and back.  The day they were born, I wondered how difficult it is for any mother to leave her child. Breaks my heart. My adopted father passed away, but I have a healthy relationship with my adopted mother.  My adopted brother and I are also close. I have a small family, but they are people I can hold in my hands.

Do I need to know more?  As my Grandmother Mimi use to say, “Let sleeping dogs lie.”

 

Poem: Four Minus Three

 

 

photo credit: Photography by Magda Indigo

 

Four Minus Three

By Shannon P. Laws

 

The sanctuary of four tulips
in a heavy glass jar
atop the round dining table
bathe in afternoon sun

Church is found in
the smallest folded places
Between petals
Between panes

A god does not determine
who lives or dies
It is the science of fate
The seat you sit in at three a.m.
when a moose moves out from the brush

Three bleed-out inside a crumpled-ball of car

while one

if asked by any nurse or doctor

could tell you
what the family
ate for dinner
yesterday

 

Poem: Susan’s Monsoon Afternoon

A Tucson Arizona monsoon

 

Susan’s Monsoon Afternoon

By Shannon P. Laws

The window did not care
that it was open
Neither did the curtains
concern themselves with being wet
The wind was indifferent
it blows where it wants

But Susan’s hand cared
as it slapped the window shut
That hand connected to the arm
the arm to the shoulder
shoulder to torso
carrying the head

the head that sent the
electrical currents and
held the soul of Susan
Those bits cared

that the new curtains were
dripping with the afternoon monsoon
blowing in the open window
behind the red couch

They forgot to set the alarm again

Someone was going to be pissed
about the puddle on the hardwood floor

But neither the wood, the glass
or the sheer of the curtain screamed

The cat is outside crouched under her car

The figure on the coffee table is tipped over
—and the TV is gone

The kitchen light is on

A shadow runs towards the back door
and someone is upstairs in her bedroom

 

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Poem: One of Many People

 

One of Many People

by Shannon P. Laws

I have been was
a second grader in 1976
My hair was long
my skin was tan
and someone gifted
me a turquoise ring

Looking back I don’t
remember having many friends
but I was happy and free
and in love with my world

I built a comic book
reading fort in the
garage rafters of our
9th Avenue home

It was a room by itself
It had a clock radio
a small, warm lamp
cushions and blankets
for me and the cat

I read
Dynamite
MAD
Marvel and D.C.
and the spooky “Believe It Or Not” comics

I miss that girl

Puberty and the 80’s were
crouched around the corner
ready to pounce
ready to pound me into another person

It will never be 1976 again
I’ll never be that long haired girl again

 

Me, 2nd grade, cu from classroom photo

 

Dynamite, issue 25, July 1976 “Space 1999 takes off!” An American pop culture magazine for children 1974-1992

 

Spoken Free Verse: The Middle Seat

Photo credit: “Mural” Jackson Pollock,1943, (University of Iowa Museum of Art, Gift of Peggy Guggenheim 1959.6 / © 2009 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / ARS, NY) http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/decoding-jackson-pollock

As I recover from a concussion ( please visit my Go Fund Me to learn more ) I thought this week was a good time to explore the audio files I have accumulated on my phone over the year.  Often inspiration strikes when I am away from a pen and paper and I can’t type the words quick enough into a note.  Recording observations as RAW audio free verse poems are satisfying for me.  Background sounds are incorporated into the piece which, I think, adds to the impromptu performance.  Also, there is a desirable amount of light pressure to form a creative thought in one take.

The fifth poem I offer up for this project is a desolate poem with the working title “The Middle Seat” recorded August 27, 2018, one and a half months before my bike accident.  Riding the 1 bus through town it stops at the YWCA, then travels by The Lighthouse Mission before it comes to my stop, the plywood mill off Roeder.  Every day there are people in crisis on this bus.  It gets to you after a while.  At times it scares me.  I fear that, if I’m not careful, I could become homeless.  Sitting in the middle of the bus one afternoon, I witnessed a rare perspective between the hopeful and the hopeless.  I’m stunned.

I recommend listening to the audio file while reading the poem.  I open Google links in Music Player for Google Drive.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1UHw3dogZno8Ev9pJlxORq2mAW09HCMrp

 

The Middle Seat

by Shannon P. Laws

 

I take the 1 downtown
my nose is bombarded by the scents of the 1
I smell an overwhelming perfume of mental illness, poverty and piss

I hear the voices of hope
three women in the front of the bus
discuss low-income housing
it’s options, what they’re like
how much they ask for
Two of the ladies are working to get out of the women’s shelter
and one has
one has gone into low-income housing
she’s made that next step out of that poverty
and they talk
and their voices have hope
I hear it
also, its riddled with pain
but they smile
and they share information

Five people behind me reek
of vomit and piss and liquor
as if they haven’t bathed in weeks
or maybe just since yesterday
I can’t tell
Bad breath
Everything they have is dirty
everything they touch is dirty
their bodies are dirty
These are people still on the streets

and there I am in the middle of them
It feels like I’m sitting on the edge of a knife

I could be
at a moments notice
in one incident
one health care thing
one accident
I could be on either side of this fence
but I take the 1 to go to my job at the sawmill
it’s depressed right now
work is slowing
we’re building up our stock
There are rumors we are building
up the stock right now to burn it

I’m drinking coffee and a breakfast cookie
sitting by myself in the break room
My body bombarded by the sound of the
machines pounding wood

 

 

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Spoken Free Verse: Rejected Draft

photo credit Harold Ross Fine Art Photography

 

As I recover from a concussion ( please visit my Go Fund Me to learn more ) I thought this week was a good time to explore the audio files I have accumulated on my phone over the year.  Often inspiration strikes when I am away from a pen and paper and I can’t type the words quick enough into a note.  Recording observations as RAW audio free verse poems are satisfying for me.  Background sounds are incorporated into the piece which, I think, adds to the impromptu performance.  Also, there is a desirable amount of light pressure to form a creative thought in one take.

The fourth poem in my Spoken Free Verse study is a short poem I have titled “Rejected Draft” recorded Monday, August 27, 2018.  It seems I walked into that Monday with a premonition how the week will end.  This poem is short, sweet and, in my mind needs little editing.  I present it, like the other poems in this series, as raw work in the original form.

I recommend listening to the audio file while reading the poem.  I open Google links in Music Player for Google Drive.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1oCGwNjro6KL1rLbkGh7i-ArYAK062UoD

Rejected Draft

by Shannon Laws

 

I start off the week on a Monday

straight as paper

shoulders back

spine stiff as a post

 

by Friday I am crumpled

broken and bent over

like a rejected chapter

from a writers typewriter

thrown to the floor

 

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Spoken Free Verse: Bowl of Epiphany

photo credit: Dish of Apples by Paul Cézanne,1876–77, Digital Photo File Name: DT1939.tif
Online Publications Edited By Steven Paneccasio for TOAH 12-18-2015

 

As I recover from a concussion ( please visit my Go Fund Me to learn more ) I thought this week was a good time to explore the audio files I have accumulated on my phone over the year.  Often inspiration strikes when I am away from a pen and paper and I can’t type the words quick enough into a note.  Recording observations as RAW audio free verse poems are satisfying for me.  Background sounds are incorporated into the piece which, I think, adds to the impromptu performance.  Also, there is a desirable amount of light pressure to form a creative thought in one take.

The third poem I want to share with you is “Bowl of Epiphany”, recorded June 20, 2018, while walking the interurban.  An epiphany is an experience of a sudden and striking realization.  June was the month I realized it was time to stop producing radio programs and open myself up to something new.  At the time I didn’t know what that was.  In August, just two months after recording this poem the answer appeared.  Transitions are difficult. Building a new life is scary, but what the hell else are you goin’ to do? If you don’t move, you’re dead.

I recommend listening to the audio file while reading the poem.  I open Google links in Music Player for Google Drive.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=17rmbLxDv09VRKimooTiip8RAX4ci-R_4

 

Bowl of Epiphany

by Shannon P. Laws

I think in life it’s not just one big apple
I think it’s many apples throughout a lifetime
and the apple I’ve been munching on for eight years
I’ve reached its core

I could eat the core
put the seeds inside of me
maybe an apple tree will grow in my stomach
I don’t think it will

I’ve reached the core of it
and I’ll toss it
I’ll toss it out into a field where hopefully
time will dig it into the ground and it’ll grow a new tree there
and I’ll look for a new piece of fruit that I can eat
it doesn’t have to be an apple
maybe it will be pear,
a nectarine
a hybrid

but every fruit has its pit
has its seed
has its rind
and they all end

there’s a cycle
it’s the swirl of the universe
it’s the way our shells grow on the beach
at the bottom of the ocean

and I’ve reached the pit, I think
I believed I reached it
I’m ready for something new and I’m scared
—scared as hell

but everything moves and changes
rain falls
turns into river
turns into ocean
turns into mist
turns into the sky
it turns into a cloud
and more clouds
until it becomes rain again

everything changes
and evolves
why wouldn’t people

such an easy concept

I’m going to climb that mountain
an easy thing to say
doing it is different
I’m going to walk
across the desert, it will only take a few weeks
no its gonna take you forty years
you need to learn a lesson
you need to change
you need to grow
parts of you need to die

life is a bowl of cherries
it’s a bowl of apples
you eat them one by one

 

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Spoken Free Verse: Birds Do Not Fly

photo credit: Shannon Laws, Bellingham Bay, August 2017

As I recover from a concussion ( please visit my Go Fund Me to learn more ) I thought this week was a good time to explore the audio files I have accumulated on my phone over the year.  Often inspiration strikes when I am away from a pen and paper and I can’t type the words quick enough into a note.  Recording observations as RAW audio free verse poems are satisfying for me.  Background sounds are incorporated into the piece which, I think, adds to the impromptu performance.  Also, there is a desirable amount of light pressure to form a creative thought in one take.

The second offering is a moment of humble thought, recorded July 31, 2017.  Nature and man-made transportation seem to torture me as I take a break from work at the shore of Squalicum Beach Park.  Of course, science tells us exactly how bids and planes fly, regardless, I’m dumbfounded taking in their magnificence.  The sneaky looking two-person boat crew weaving around the inlet with a quiet motor at sunset, hang something to the pier perched on the opposite side of the inlet is an understandable event, although I do not know their intentions.

I recommend listening to the audio file while reading the poem.  I open Google links in Music Player for Google Drive.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ukdHKxn_s6ORBPyR-BtZMxryz-E7Afax

Birds Do Not Fly

By Shannon Laws

I don’t know how birds fly
I sit at the water’s edge
I watch them
land onto the water
float on the water
I watch them easily hop around
I don’t know how they fly

I have no idea

Just flapping of the wings,
tucking back the tail and feet
nose pointed out
The motion must be repetitive in their mind
without any thought
Except maybe an instinct when the air changes
when the wind gusts from the side
or the heat vent comes up from behind them up
and lifts them suddenly, ten twenty feet in the air
It’s probably no surprise anymore
if they even feel surprise

and I watch them
and I still just don’t know how they do it

The seagulls near the airport are just as much a mystery
as the airplane themselves
How do we get inside a tube and just fly
We just sit still and move hundreds of miles an hour
I don’t understand it

A boat goes by with a motor attached
to the back a little dingy
It’s expecting some sort of package
It’s hanging from a pier log
It could be drugs
maybe a crab pot, illegal
Maybe they just found a cool looking barnacle
or some muscles thought they’d take a chance

That I understand
I understand a boat
and I understand a train

there’s a track
there’s water
there’s a motor

but flying
I don’t understand it

I don’t understand why the sun doesn’t just fall on us
or why we don’t get sucked into it
why were not drawn to the heat of it
and the moon…
it just sits there and stares at me
just half of it anyways
the other half winks

It’s eight o clock at night and the moon is up
it’s the last day of July
there’s no snow on the mountains

I’m OK with not knowing everything

 

 

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Spoken Free Verse: Late for Overtime

Late for Overtime

by Shannon P. Laws

As I recover from a concussion ( please visit my Go Fund Me to learn more ) I thought this week was a good time to explore the audio files I have accumulated on my phone over the year.  Often inspiration strikes when I am away from a pen and paper and I can’t type the words quick enough into a note.  Recording observations as RAW audio free verse poems are satisfying for me.  Background sounds are incorporated into the piece which, I think, adds to the impromptu performance.  Also, there is a desirable amount of light pressure to form a creative thought in one take.

The first one I present, “Late for Overtime”, was recorded September 16, 2017.  I was working a double shift with a six-hour layover.  That looks like a swing shift 2:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. then work the morning shift, 5:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  I was waiting for a carpool to pick me up 4:30 a.m. at the same place they dropped me off the day before.  However, my ride was running late, so, I am late for overtime.  It was that warm September morning, on the corner of Larrabee and somewhere, when inspiration hit me upside the head.

BTW, I open the Google links in Music Player for Google Drive.  you can listen as you read if you want. Please let me know what you think.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=13_eoS1FBjViDN2yFSFBYuhOSWkaciG_d

 

I’m sitting on the curb on the corner of Larrabee
and some street I can’t see the sign for
It’s almost  5:30 in the morning and the sun
is just coming up over the cascades
Its paint brush is changing the sky from
a charcoal gray to a very, very dark blue
Fingernail moon is just misty just fuzzy,
right almost out of sight behind a thin layer of clouds

Cold rushes up over the hill
hits my back
It’s the evening
running
running west
Afraid of the light
afraid of the warmth
afraid of the sun
It’s always running
its always running west
away from the sun

The air was so still just a moment ago and now
after seeing that sliver of light over the hills
it picked up and it
rushes itself down the
ravine, towards the water
towards Bellingham Bay

It flosses the town in a silent scream

There’s sprinklers in the background and I’m wondering…
I’m wondering why I never sat on
a street corner
in my neighborhood
at 5;30 in the morning before

The sounds and the smells of the air
the change in the air—is refreshing!
It’s life!
It’s better than any season
because it happens every morning

The tall cedars dropping down with
their question mark branches
Look like a golden retriever’s tail
I know they’re hiding owls in there
Maybe they’re looking at me
watching me
wondering if I’ll scurry
across the street
turn in a mouse

At any moment the birds will wake up
The first bit of light will just hit the lids
of the sleeping birds
They’ll be the first to announce it—

It’s Saturday!

and Shannon is late for overtime at the mill

 

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Poem: Stout

Honshu, Japan earthquake tsunami, 2011

 

Stout

by Shannon Laws

 

The thick boned world stabs
at the ocean and moves it
Sea lifts its skirt of waves
crashes them to Earth’s shore

It was enough

It was enough to be stabbed
to relocate away from the familiar
deep lava vents that warmed
the current with breath of conversation

Sea ran to the Earth and lay on it
the soil looks away confused by
seaweed and floss turning in the sky
the life of saltwater raises skins coffin

The Earth is a son of a bitch
that pecks at us all, come hither it calls

Sea laid down its dress on mounds
dirt had no option but to devour

 

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