Friday, January 4, 2013

Common Link

After reading an interesting article, shared by Margaret Atwood on Twitter, I started to ponder the concept of a common link. Svante Paabo, a Swedish geneticist, the inspiration for Michael Chrichton's Jurassic Park, writes that three to five per cent of us carry Neanderthal genes. Who among us would not like to know if we have that link?

A few years back, I sent off a swab taken from the inside of my cheek, to learn of my ancient past. While this test did not identify any Neanderthal traces, it did note the journey of my ancient bloodlines through the maternal genetic material. I learned that I came from a subgroup connecting my ancestors to Brittany. This led me to want to know more about my mother's people, her father, and my French ancestry. 

On the paternal side, and through my maternal grandmother, the bloodline is Irish. This December, I had the distinct pleasure of watching The Fitzgerald Family Christmas. One does not need to have a drop of Irish ancestry to love this movie, written and directed by Edward Burns.  For those of us with more than a substantial dollop, the tale is a love affair and a tip of the cap to our roots. This theme of culture runs very deep with me, and those who have read my work, know that it is central to everything I do. I believe I read to know and understand other peoples, and I love writers who can open the curtain for me and let me see into their world. My work in progress, my fictive memoir entitled, Four Stanley Cups and a Funeral, carries the leitmotif of two side by side cultures: French and English, Irish Catholic and Irish Protestant, Ontario and Quebec, the United States and Canada always in twain, and forever, a blending of the two. It seems to be my happy fate, one that fills me with wonder and indeed, calls for a referee at times. Yet it is made more rich, more exquisite and more beautiful by the constant addition of diversity. If I find that I carry traces of Neanderthal genes in the mix, it may help to explain a few things.

Due to the marvels of a changing world, I learned that I could watch The Fitzgerald Family Christmas  through downloading it from I had been scouring the local listings to no avail. Then voila, within a split second, I viewed it on my computer. I liked the film so much, I watched it twice! Some complain about the changing world, put down web sites like Twitter when they have not the slightest clue what it is all about. In the past, we were limited to what we could read and what we could get into print. Not anymore, and I for one welcome the change. 

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