Earlier this spring, my mother had one of those milestone birthdays ending in a number that is not 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9.
There wasn’t a whole lot that she wanted for her birthday, but one thing that she did want was to go to New Mexico.
When I was a child, we often went on road trips. Most were to Fresno to visit my grandmother, several were to Portland, Oregon, where we visited a family with whom we were friends but who had moved away from Woodland, California, where I grew up, and one was to Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, where we spent the summer while my father attended classes related to his teaching.
Recalling the rigors as well as the romance of these trips, I was not comfortable with my mother making the journey on her own, but it wasn’t until this past Saturday that I was able to carve out the time to help her make it happen, and since shortly after five in the afternoon of this past Saturday, we have been on the open road.
My mother had never expressed a particular interest in New Mexico, but that all changed when we got some unexpected results from a DNA test.
My mother, myself, and one of my sons have all had our DNA tested at Ancestry.com, and late last July, a fairly close match to all three of us popped up. What made this less usual is that the close match was to someone we did not know, but it was close enough that we should have. The person managing the account reached out and asked if we had any idea how we might be related.
My maternal grandfather, Nick Benjamin, had been married to a woman named Marinda Smith before he met and married my grandmother, so at first, we thought it was possible that there was a child from that union, but the match, while close, was not as close as it should have been if the source had been a half-sibling to my mother.
We were, however, determined to help the young man to whom we had been matched untangle the story of how we are related so that he could know not only who he was, but where he came from.
After several weeks of cautious back and forth, we were able to do just that.
So now that my mother and I are on the last leg of a journey to untangle this family mystery and meet this young man to whom we are biologically connected, I am also working to untangle and organize the many bits and pieces of my crochet.
As a result of all the driving I have done while my mother and I have been traversing North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and now New Mexico, I haven’t had the time to make any new work, but I did find these crochet pieces which seem to go with the hyperbolic curlicues I wrote about in my last blog post:
At first, I couldn’t figure out what they were, but I kept digging and found this:
Obviously, the two textured ruffle crochet pieces had once been destined to be hats:
It is hard to know at any given moment what our particular destinies might be. When I got my DNA tested, I did not know what revelations awaited.
I owe my own existence to the generosity of a man I never met. One who was willing to take on the responsibility of my grandmother — a then young woman who had been widowed twice — and her four children, and I intend to move forward and show my grandfather’s great-great grandson the same spirit of generosity that made my own life possible.