DNA. Dance of the Gene pools.
DNA- Dance of the gene pool. Who are you?
My wife Mary had purchased me one of those DNA kits as a birthday present. I dutifully expectorated into the small tube, sealed it up and shipped it to the lab for analysis. I thought that I already knew who I was and who my ancestors are, going back five generations. My genetic line is a curious amalgam of gene pools, emanating mostly from Ireland and Scotland, seasoned with a dash of genes contributed from Alsace Lorraine and NW Spain. I knew who these people all were. The DNA testing had verified their contributions to the line.
It was the last one per cent that surprised me. I was also of Italian extraction. Somewhere, six generations back in time, an intrepid adventurer, male or female scion of those noble descendants of the Romans, had married into a line of fractious Irish. God Bless the man or woman for their patience. The mental gears in my gene pool clicked in. I now understood my fondness for eggplant parmigiana, good red wine and talking with my hands when excited. Old friends like Joe Cordaro and Carl Perla would have laughed appreciatively. Then, they would have smiled at me and pointed out that this genetic line is probably the source of some of my better qualities. I can picture Joe or Carl laughing and saying “Genes will out!”
It is fascinating to observe the river of genes that had flowed through time. On both the paternal and maternal lines, the scientists can track your lineal descent to both your Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon roots, some 50,000 years ago. The magnitude of trying to imagine the thousands of generations of family, that had flowed together to create my current generation of humanity, escapes me. That is a lot of people of diverse backgrounds, who came together genetically, as they flowed across the continents, leaving their DNA imprints behind.
I was reminded of an anecdote from WW II. The U.S Navy had established a coaling and refueling station at Bora Bora in the far away Society Islands of the South Pacific. At war’s end, when the military left, there remained behind some 100 children of mixed U.S./ Polynesian background, a DNA imprint of their time there. I can only imagine a long into the future DNA analyst trying to figure out where that strain of DNA came from.
And it is so too with all of us. Many, many strains of ancestors came together to create who and what we are. I think we not only need to appreciate them for their contributions, but celebrate them for their diversity and additions to the gene pool. As for me, I think I will order up some Eggplant Parmigiana tonight, with angel hair pasta and decent chianti, in celebration of that wandering and adventurous Italian ancestor who had contributed to the ancestral line to help bring me here today.
Joseph Xavier Martin