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DNA dreams: Who are you related to?

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Columnist Bob Weir
Columnist Bob Weir

Have you ever wondered about your ancestors from hundreds, even thousands of years ago?

Most people can only trace their heritage a few generations deep. But, it’s always been fascinating to me that everyone alive today has relatives that go back thousands of years, well before the advent of recorded history.

I had that in mind when my nephew’s wife (Would that be my niece-in-law?) asked me to participate in a DNA ancestry test. By using a small kit, accompanied by directions and a test tube, I registered with the company online and submitted a saliva sample after placing it in a sealed manila envelope and using snail mail as a transport. About a month later I received my first results via email, which contained a link to a lineage chart.

Seconds later, I became excited by some of the prominent names that were attached to my bloodline. Warren Buffet is a 3rd to a 5th cousin on my father’s side and Leo Tolstoy is a descendant in my mother’s family tree.

Inasmuch as Tolstoy left the tree about a hundred years ago, I looked up the contact info for the world’s richest (or second richest, depending on the latest stock market numbers) human being. It didn’t take long to reach out to Cousin Buffet’s office by phone.

After telling the man who answered that I was related to the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and would like to speak with him, I heard a series of deep breaths, followed by some muffled conversation. “Sir, what is your name and how are you related to Mr. Buffet?” the man finally said, with a slight quiver in his voice. Using my most authoritative voice, I replied, “Sir, I happen to be his cousin. Would you kindly put me through to him?”

“Sir, I’m afraid I can’t do that unless I know more about you. Mr. Buffet is a very busy man,” he said, sounding a bit more confident. “Okay, my name is Bob Weir and I traced my cousin through a DNA analysis, which proves that he and …” I completed my sentence to a dial tone. Oh well, some people think they’re better than you just because they have a few billion dollars.

Oddly enough, the chart also revealed that Jimmy Buffet was a long lost cousin of yours truly. Yet, when I tried to contact him, I got no further than a musical recording about some place called “Margaritaville.” Returning to the drawing board I began clicking on other links. Soon, I discovered that about 80 percent of my genes were traced to Ireland and England, with a small percentage of Scandinavian influence. Additionally, there were some fractions of African heritage in the mix.

Eagerly, I searched further, hoping I might be related to Dr. Martin Luther King, Clarence Thomas, or maybe even someone from the Hollywood community, like Denzel Washington. No such luck! The trail seemed to end before I could find a single name that could help me to launch a Wikipedia search. I began to wonder if anything could be gained by locating kin from a DNA search.

Just as I was about to give up, I received a communication on my online chart from another distant relative. He described himself as an entrepreneur from Colorado and he asked for my phone number. When he called he said he had researched my name and found that I was a writer who had penned several books and written columns for numerous newspapers and blogs across the country.

He wanted to know if I’d be interested in making an investment in a company he wants to start. It seems he knows a lot about growing marijuana and since it’s now legal in his state, he needs about a hundred grand to get started. I wonder how long it took before he realized he was talking to a dial tone.

Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor.

 

 

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