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My Study on Genetics

29 Sep

Genetics is a mysterious beast. There have been numerous scientific studies on the topic, of course, but I have been secretly conducting my own personal study over the span of a 35 year lifetime. My study began with my thrust into a step family and ended with my haphazard reception of a mother and daughter cat pair.

When I was very young, my natural parents parted ways due to circumstances beyond my mother’s control. My mother, who was fiercely overprotective of her young daughter, would not allow my father into our lives. She had good reason. This led to the two of us on our own in a big, scary world.

After some wayward journeys and a new brother, my mom finally met my stepdad. This guy was really cool – I remember him coming over to our apartment and playing his records for me. To this day, I still love “Daddy’s music” and I remember the first morning I woke up to him making his coffee in the kitchen. It wasn’t long before I asked him if I could call him Daddy.

We added two more babies to the family and we were quite content. In fact, the pair are still together after nearly 25 years of ups and downs. However, while we were all busy building and raising a family (and yes, I did change more than one diaper for a sibling), something different was happening to me.

I was the “outsider”, through no one’s fault. I was interested in subject matter that no one else in our house seemed to grasp. While my new Daddy was watching football, I was pretending to write at his knee. While my new siblings were climbing up trees, I was practicing my drawing with my new pencil set. I was always in “left field” from the rest of the family. My parents tried to embrace and support all my endeavors, but they fell just short of understanding my unique talents.

I also had a hard time connecting with my new Dad’s family. They are darling people and I love them to the moon and back, but when we first met, I definitely felt different. They were quiet, I was loud. They were very close to each other; I had a hard time connecting. As a youngster, I felt outside of their circle simply because I felt different from the rest of my family. I have since connected with them and love them dearly, but it was rough in the beginning.

As I was struggling to find my place in my new family, my biological father was following a sordid path. He was dealing with some very personal issues and I still haven’t figured it all out. He traveled with the Air Force, and while he loved me fiercely, his traveling and his disagreements with my mother kept us apart. I would later learn that other factors separated us as well.

He died at his own hand when I was seventeen years old. At that time, I had approached my mother and asked if I could find, then contact, him. She gave me her blessing and promised to help. Well, I found him when my grandfather called me and told me that my father had died. (My mother, though she wanted my father to stay away from me, always allowed my grandparents to have the option to be a part of my life and always provided them with our phone number.) My response was, “Well, where do you want me to be and when?” My mother told me it was okay to cry, and I asked her why I would do that. Someone I never knew had just died. I felt sorry for his family, but I didn’t feel sorry for myself. My search was over.

I went to the funeral and I met his family. Since we were so very distant, I had no idea that he had a wife and two new daughters (new sisters for me!) I found out that I had a whole new path to explore.

I started to visit my grandmother more often after my father’s death, and that’s when she started to open up to me. She began to show me her pictures and her art. It was just like mine. I started to talk more to my new sisters, and I found that my sister Stacy was a lot like me in personality. She was smart, sassy, and had a mouth that wouldn’t quit – just like me. I met my aunt who was loud and I met my uncle who had the same bent sense of humor as myself.

Finally, I understood. Finally, I found myself. My parents who raised me (and my maternal grandmother who helped) showed me how to be tough and determined. My absent paternal family had given me their talents simply because I had been born. I finally understood where I fit in with the rest of the world and I finally saw myself through my genetics. I found where I fit in the family puzzle, and I embraced my “new” family with open arms. I was able to discover pieces of myself that had confused me. This allowed me to become comfortable with myself and grow closer to my daddy’s family, where previously I had been unable to be completely comfortable. I now have THREE families to which I am devoted because I gained a little bit of something from each of them. I also understand that personality is A. learned and B. inherited. Many people never receive this lesson first hand as I have.

Finally, I had a daughter who acts just like me – I tell everyone I cloned her. I can see my personality in her, and I can see that she has elements of her Dad and my biological father’s family. It is quite fascinating to watch the genetic personality traits move down the line. She loves animals, and she asked for a kitten last year.

The kitten that we found came with the mother, so we accepted mom and baby. They lived with us harmoniously until mom was killed in the street – now baby stays in the house exclusively. I have learned more about genetics through this mother and daughter team and it has been amazing.

Baby will put her front paws on the patio window then “walk” along the door following the squirrels outside. Mom used to do the same thing. Baby will throw my pencils off my desk on a daily basis. Mom used to do the same. Baby wants human affection on the same level as mom. This mother and daughter team has given me further observation on genetics and personality – it doesn’t stop with humans.

It has been an amazing ride, and I challenge you to step outside of yourself to look at your own genetics. If you have children, observe their behavior and discover why they do what they do. You just might learn what I learned – to understand yourself, you must understand from where you’ve come.

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