The topic for this week's Spin Cycle is Bonds. Which is ironic because Daughter #1 and I have been researching our family tree the past couple of months.
So far we've only gotten as far back as the early 1800's, but already I feel a bond with these ancestors I've never met and, in many cases, never even heard of.
My mother has often told me I remind her of her grandma, my own great grandmother, Catherine, who was reportedly a tall redhead who barely went gray, even as an old woman. But how fun it was then, to actually find a copy of her passport, on line, from the 1920's when she would have been in her mid 40's, and see that she was 5 foot 10 and still listed as a redhead.
I can thank her not only for contributing to my height, but for the fact that, at 48, there are still no gray hairs on my head.
The Belfast, Ireland census of 1911 gave me information about my father's parents who both grew up there. Although each of their mothers, my great grandmothers, was married and had children, neither of their husbands is listed as living in their houses with them. This, I know, is because they had to travel to England to find work and send money back to their families in Ireland.
There is a record of my grandfather having been being baptized in England, and I picture my great grandmother Elizabeth traveling all the way there with her two young daughters and infant son, to baptize this boy in a strange and distant church just so that her husband might be present for this important event.
I think of these two great grandmothers, Elizabeth and yet another Catherine, one taking in sewing and the other boarders, both essentially living day to day as single parents, and I can't help but feel a bond with them.
Like my sister and me, my maternal grandma had Rh negative blood. Very rare, but also genetically recessive. I know that in order to inherit this type of blood, the gene has to be passed down from both parents. My father, however, is unaware of any such family history on his side.
Yet it's worth noting that our family tree boasts no prolific families bursting with children on either side, although those were common enough for Irish Catholics back in the day. Which leads me to wonder if this Rh negative factor in our genes may have been an insidious contributing factor in limiting family size.
My grandma once confided to me that she and her mother both lost "blue babies," as they were called, because of their negative blood type. As a nurse I learned about this condition, where any mixing of Rh positive and negative blood between mother and baby, either during pregnancy and/or at delivery, not infrequently resulted in the baby's death from hemolytic anemia shortly after birth.
I received Rhogam, or Rh immunoglobulin, during each of my pregnancies to prevent this, and then again after the births of First-Born Son and Daughter #1, who both have Rh positive blood.
But The Ex, like my father, obviously has a hidden family gene, because Daughter #2 is Rh negative. Like me, and her great grandmother, and great great grandmother, and on and on. All the way back to the beginning of our family.
Some bonds in life we create. Others, it seems, create us.
For more Spins on Bonds, visit Sprite's Keeper.
I've decided to post only twice a week for the time being, a compromise which allows me to spend more time on some other writing projects, yet maintain my connection with all of you in Blog Land who have become such a part of my life. I know you understand. I promise that, although I may not be around quite as often, I will still be visiting each of you on a regular basis.