Monthly Archives: May 2014

Happy Mitochondrial DNA Day

Human mitochondrial DNA was the first significant part of the human genome to be sequenced. In most species, including humans, mtDNA is inherited solely from the mother. – Wikepedia.

I’m going through my pictures from my recent trip and I come across two pictures that make me smile.

We went to Rigo’s Mexican Restaurant in Tucson, Arizona, on my last day. We had finished a yummy breakfast. It was time to take pictures. I had to get a picture of my aunt, whom I call Tia, and my mom. They take a serious picture, and then someone says something very funny, and they laugh.

It’s this laughter that annoys my father to no end. Mom and Tia can sit at a table together and get into very animated conversation, punctuated by giggles and belly laughs. He wants to run home. But when I visit, he has to take it, while I bask in the fun.

When they get like this, I realize that they are channeling their mom, Nela. I research my mom’s paternal branch of the family. It has been my focus for 20+ years. However, it is their fun-loving mom that is present when their mitochondrial DNA get together and feed off of each other.

Manuela Ismael, 1940ish.

Manuela Ismael, 1940ish.

Out of the three daughter’s Nela had, and the five granddaughters she had, there are less than a handful of great-granddaughters. I have a son. I love him dearly, but having no daughters has caused some introspection to know that a DNA chain that has existed for thousands of years dies with me.

I talked with an uncle this week. He reminded me of others I have talked to about family history .”But is that person from the Escalante branch?” Families don’t have one parent at each generation break. They come from so many people. I’ve never been one to poo-poo the various branches that make up my entire tree. If I can find a person who was related waaaay back, on that branch you have to climb out onto to reach, they are family. My gene pool.

My Tia and Mom, Rigo's, Tucson, Arizona.

My Tia and Mom, Rigo’s Restaurant, Tucson, Arizona.

See the nice tranquil pose? Then one of us says something completely inappropriate. One of our Mitochondrial DNA responds. The rest laugh in agreement.

There it is!

There it is!

I can write-up hundreds of posts that involve the struggle to deal with love, best intentions, abandonment, drama, mid-life crises, joy, hate, etc. But the very basic essence of who we are starts with two people. And their two people. And so on. And so on.

I appreciate my grandmother who left me my great mom and her sister. And if you stop for a moment, you can feel her there too. Every time we get together.