Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Getting to Know the Missing Branch

How much do you know about your family?

I thought I knew a lot about my family.

I'm a Mormon, that's what we do, that's our focus: family.

Then, you put into the mix that I am a carrier of Fragile X Syndrome and the desire to know my family genealogy becomes a passion trying to find out where the gene came from and who it may have been passed to.

I am sure that anyone out there who has an inherited trait, like green eyes, red hair, freckles, long toes, big lips, or even long eyelashes likes to know who they inherited that from; Grandma, Aunt Lillith, Great Grandpa Gar. Heck, it's human to want to know how we became us.

So when you add an inherited mental impairment syndrome like Fragile X you really want to know where it comes from so that you can help other family members know about it too.

Well, I had an amazing opportunity being able to go with Tiffany on our Advocacy trip to DC because for the first 3 days we stayed with her aunt (my Dad's cousin), Peggy, whom I have never met.


I didn't even know she existed.


Well, I won't go into it much but, let's just say that my dad's, mom's side of the family didn't have family reunions or really get together that often when I was young. So, I know names, vaguely and have heard stories of some others, but have met VERY few of them.

Here are the amazing views from the plane, me and Tiff excited to get there, and me on Sunday morning holding the family lizard, Geo. There's more of him below...

On Saturday night after our plane ride into Reagan Airport we rode home in a white, Chevy Traverse with a woman and her son whom I have never met or spoken to in my life that I can recall. Yet, she seemed so familiar to me. She had so many mannerisms and idiosyncrasies that were uncanny impersonations of my Dad's sister, Becky and my Grandma Vivian. I just couldn't get over it! It was so fun to just soak it all in and to meet her 4 children at home.

Her kids were so dear and kind to us. I could tell that they were so excited to have family there to visit them. We shared a lot of laughs, meals, songs, piano tunes, secrets, banana bread, memories, and even some tears. It was amazing to me that even though I didn't know Peggy, the fact that we are family tied us together and formed a strong bond.

Have you ever seen a lizard riding a Unicorn? Peggy's youngest daughter showed us the talent her pet has. Tee hee!

On Sunday we had so much fun going to the Great Falls National Park there in Virginia. It was beautiful! Tiffany and I were enjoying the company of all of Peggy's family who were there. We had fun just being... and the kids had fun climbing poles, rocks and fences. Then we went to see the Washington DC Mormon Temple. Gorgeous!

Peggy is in the top left of the collage and the kids throughout are her 4 sweethearts! And that sunset is over Great Falls.
I really wished I had my amazing camera, but my iPhone didn't do too bad and it was a lot easier to carry around.

My favorite pic of all of us trying to get in frame while I shoot the picture... priceless!

Like I said, my iPhone wasn't too shabby, of course the scenery couldn't look bad anyway.

That night we--Tiffany, Peggy and I--stayed up late talking about family that I didn't know very well, my Grandma Vivian's side. I heard so many stories I had never known. It was as if my Grandma was up in heaven listening in with me and smiling to see that I was finally connecting with her side of the family. It was such a neat and memorable night. As well it should have been, we were up until 3:30 in the morning talking, crying, laughing and everything in between. We were also very intrigued when we started to talk about where our Fragile X mutation started from and if it may affect others in our family line who may not even know about Fragile X Syndrome. You see, my Grandma Vivian and Tiffany's Grandma are sisters (and Tiffany's grandma is Peggy's mom) so that is the reason for our interest and desire to find out more, wondering if any other siblings my be carriers in the family and if there is anyone we need to reach out to. There is a branch on the family tree that kind of fell off the radar for many and none of us really know them very well. But, it has been very interesting to watch all the doors that have been opening up to us, especially with the research on Fragile X being done here in Utah. I know there is a reason all of this familial connection is coming to our awareness now, there are answers that can be given through this gene that has been passed on.

It really is a blessing to know your family genealogy and where you come from, it gives so many answers to questions you may not have known you even had.

It also gives you a sense of where you belong in this universe and helps you realize the friends you already have and just had to get to know. For instance, the friendship I have built with Tiffany, my second cousin that I just met a year ago, has come so naturally. They time spent with her for 6 days was such a treasure and a blast! I can't even begin to tell you how much we are a like, yet how different we are and still have a strong relationship as friends and cousins! Awesome!

Anyway, it was a true blessing to meet Peggy, her hubby Ken and there 4 children still at home. I am so excited to see them again someday and hope it will be sooner rather than later.

On our last day together before going off to our advocacy training we had the opportunity to go to the Iwo Jima Memorial... A M A Z  I  N G!!! I cannot tell you the patriotic spirit that emanates as you stand there looking at that incredible sculpture.

I also loved what it says at the base of the statue: Uncommon Valor Was A Common Virtue

Valor. Courage in defense of a noble cause.

Only one small view of Arlington Cemetary, it is massively huge...

Then, we went to the Arlington Cemetery and then on up to the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier. We just happened to get there at the time of the Changing of The Guard. It brought tears to my eyes as I watched the reverence and dedication that is involved in the symbolism of guarding a tomb that represents so many fallen soldiers who have not been named or found. Truly a patriotic and humbling experience.

That is one thing you realize while at Washington DC and seeing the sites is the patriotism that you feel for your country.

I feel that the importance of family and your dedication and devotion to family is so much like patriotism. We'll do whatever it takes to care for and defend our family. Is that not what our soldiers have done and do for our country.

I hope we never lose this branch of our country's tree by not knowing the sacrifices that have been made from the beginning to bless us with the country that we love.

God bless my family and God bless the USA!

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