Friday, July 20, 2012

DNA Genealogy: Drama and Suspense

My great big genealogy gamble had me holding my breath, and not just for the results.

Monday, June 18, I called Mrs. Lessie to confirm her willingness to take a DNA test, then I pulled out my credit card and paid for TWO autosomal DNA tests (Family Finder - affiliate link) — one for her and one for my uncle. I was so excited! (I plan to write a future post about why this test should tell us, once and for all, if Swain Maness is my missing great-great-grandfather.) I was a little nervous because Mrs. Lessie keeps forgetting who I am; I have to explain every time I call.

I should have been more than a little nervous.

Saturday, June 23, her son Mitchell called me. He explained that his mother has Alzheimer's. Fortunately I had asked her to write down my phone number, but she couldn't remember anything about that slip of paper with my name or number on it. Worse yet, the test kit had arrived and she was upset about it. She didn't want to take the test. Mitchell said, "Sorry, we can't help you."

My heart sank. When I could get a word in, I tried to explain what a big investment this was, and how my family had been searching for this man, perhaps his great-grandfather, for generations. He agreed to wait a few days and ask his mother again.

About two hours later, when my hands had stopped shaking, I had a brainstorm. Autosomal DNA has a good percentage for comparison up to third cousins — if Ms. Lessie wouldn't take the test, her son could do it!

I called Mitchell back and left a message. And waited...

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