Lost Cousins

Last weekend I attended the San Francisco Writer’s Conference and it was as informative as last year’s event. The workshops are excellent, of course, and I spoke with a lot of strangers. One lunch, I got to talking with the woman in line in front of me and we sat next to each other during the meal. I mentioned that this summer, I’m going to a literary festival in Cork, Ireland. She had heard of the festival but that wasn’t what she wanted to talk about. She wanted to talk about the Irish people and the country and first mothers, a term I wasn’t familiar with. She bought one of those DNA collection kits, sent it in and in a few weeks was advised she was 55% Irish. She was thrilled with the result. She learned she descended from the “reindeer people”, the Viking invaders. Along with the test results, they sent her a list of other people who had taken the test whose results indicated they were related, lost cousins. She contacted some of people whose names were on the list – they lived in all parts of the world. “You send them an email and, depending on their response, strike up a correspondence or drop it at that.” She located relations in Ireland and arranged to meet during her vacation there. One was a taxi driver in the town from which her ancestors departed, a wealth of information on the locals. Another owned a farm where she and her daughter were welcomed with tea – they shared a great grandfather. My DNA test kit has already arrived. The suspense is killing me.

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