DNA unions

I recently received the results of a DNA test and was amazed — and not so surprised — by the results.
My ancestors were evidently very efficient at birthing young ‘uns. I have at least 596 fourth cousins who have also taken the test.Goodness only knows how many haven’t — yet! Imagine if we all gathered for a family reunion! Would we discover traits in common with each other such as looking at life through blue eyes rimmed with green?
My ethnic roots are primarily planted in Western Europe and Ireland/Great Britain. Germany, France, Switzerland and Ireland and England and Scotland).
The tests show I have a smattering of Scandinavian (is that why I love snow?) and Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal with a possible ancient link to North Africa).
Oh and there’s a wee peppering of Finland/Northwest Russia. Think reindeer!
Ironically, those countries’ inhabitants haven’t always gotten along — fighting wars and struggling to hammer out peace accords in the past.
And here I am — thanks to my ancestors — a walking genetic European Union. No br-exiting allowed.
The quest for discovering the genetic side of me is intriguing. Definitely knowing these facts doesn’t replace the current family connections. The need for quality time with loved ones!
However, today I am more rooted in the world community.
–Mary Louise Van Dyke (C) 2017. All Rights Reserved.
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Investigating the book drop

While waiting for the library to open today, I observed a curious 6 year old who appeared fascinated with the two outside drops for library materials.
His investigation got underway with prying open the metal door and peeking inside.
An older woman, arms loaded with books, asked him to “help” her with returning her reads. He smiled and pulled at the handle. One by one the volumes disappeared from sight.
He asked me what each drop was for. One was for adults, I said and spelled out the letters. The other, I said, was just for people his size to return books and DVD’s.
That seemed to make sense. We both peered through the drops and I told him that the books/materials plunge into a box.
“Then what happens?” he asked.
“Then the librarian comes and checks the books in so more children and adults can check them out.”
Oh. That explanation satisfied him and he ran over to his parent to share the exciting news with them.
I went my way, smiling.

(C) 2017 by Mary Louise Van Dyke. All Rights Reserved. For more information contact the writer at marylvandyke03@gmail.com.

Measuring a relationship

How do you measure the relationship between you and another person?
In the light of the third anniversary of my friend Beth’s passing, I am pondering that question.
There are times when we are closer — and times of being disconnected from those people who are bright lights to us.
Times where the confidences flow swift and sure because there’s so much you want to say. Other times when silence presses down like a humid day and stifles.
Times where hanging out in the same room feels further apart than being emotionally and mentally connected via social media.
Times of misunderstanding and grumbled words snapped out in moments of exhaustion — and times of loving, “I’m here for you”, “let’s get together today for coffee/tea” thoughts delivered at just the right moment!
Friends, family members are individuals you carry with you as you trudge through through a dozen “have to’ get done’s” day.
Even when the connection between you seems to dim and fray, the cord of caring is still hanging in there.
You carry their pain in your heart. You hope that they find their way over the huge boulders. You cheer them on to reach their goal line. You joy with them and you want the best for them.
And you love them. That’s all. So simple. You love.
–Mary Louise Van Dyke
(C) 2017. All Rights Reserved. For more information contact the writer at marylvandyke03@gmail.com

Bibles show mute evidence of the past.

I unexpectedly got in touch with my inner historical child today through an unexpected encounter with an old Bible.

I grew up loving stories about my grandma’s growing up on a homestead in Alberta and the family using catalog pages for toilet paper and Gram and her next-in-line sister, Meryle, perched on back of a horse to reach the local, one-room schoolhouse.

My great grandmother wrote down the names of each new daughter in the family Bible.

Another family Bible — now long vanished — played a role in showing where a 4x-great grandfather came from. Evidently, he never shared any details of his family or past with his wife and children and their children. Whatever happened to divide them, he stuck to his resolution to say nothing.

Except, in the family Bible. After his death, one of his descendants leafed through grandfather’s old Bible. And there she discovered he’d written down that he hailed from Pennsylvania. The lines for the writing of his mother and father’s names was blank.

I was reminded of those stories today while riding the bus today.  An older man sat down next to me much to my surprise. There were vacant seats to be had — however, he said he had something  I might like to see.

Now, I don’t know why he picked me. I wasn’t wearing a t-shirt marked with “History is the bomb!”

But I was glad he perched next to me. His treasure was a vintage Bible — leather bound, brass fittings. The original owner had signed his name and the year 1860. Gilt-edged pages still shone, the lithograph colored illustrations of King David and the Apostles still intact. The spine was in bad shape, but the new possessor said he planned to get the Bible restored.

1860. My 4x-great grandfather was still alive then and the westward movement was taking place with folks travelling to Oregon and California in covered wagons to homestead. On the national front, the debates over slavery and electing a new president raged. Women including my grandmother’s English-born grandma, using wood stoves, wash tubs and “sad” irons to care for their families and homes.

This Bible — and the ones owned by my great grandmother and 4x great grandfather — feature the elegant handwriting of the past. The recording — or not — of family lineage. The stories found in the Bible that probably provided the only entertainment allowed on the Sabbath days. Showing mute, small evidences of who these original owners were, like the delicate dried flower found in my great grandmother’s Bible.

Treasures indeed.

(C) 2017 by Mary Louise Van Dyke. All Rights Reserved. For more information contact her at marylvandyke03@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

Shaking off inflammatory learned behaviors

When I was a kid, I behaved like a kid. Ornery when dealing with what I thought of as in-my-face siblings. Shriveling internally when getting called names by some classmates who specialized in bullying. Ducking behind behind the covers of a book when life just got too overwhelming – which it seemed to do on a regular basis.

From those situations, emerged what I call “learned behaviors.”

You know, those inflamed automated responses that crop up. Such as sputtering “Shut up!” when discussing how much firewood I was allowed to use on a recent camp out. My next-in-line-to-me sibling was in charge of fire operations.

I stalked back to my tent. Brooded, growled and chewed over what I wanted to say. Versus how I should behave especially with younger family members watching. I located him later and scraped out an apology for the heated words. But not for how I felt about his assertion of being da boss. That – that part of him will never change so I need to accept that reality.

A few weeks ago my boss micro-managed a project. I understood they wanted a certain result – okay. However, the way they communicated their expectations, left me feeling like a first grader who’s struggling to figure out what C – A – T spells.

I’m still trying to figure out a pleasant and professional way to shape my response to that situation. One with using my “I” words versus the more inflammatory “you” words.

Yeah. Good luck to me on that one.

And of course there are other situations that trigger the learned behaviors of earlier adult years. For example, sharing a meal with a 20-something offspring – and wanting to spill out reams of parenting advice on how they could shape their lives into my image of success.

My” or “their” image? Hmm. I bit back the words that hovered on the tip of my tongue. Told myself, “hey, cupcake, this isn’t your life.” It’s tough. But all those lovely “how-to’s” and “you should do’s” need to be shared sparingly. Sometimes not at all, unless the object of my concern looks at me and says, “Mom, what do you think?”

Basically, shaping the responses that keep the doors of communication open calls for a lot of thinking.

In some ways, I think I’m making progress. Although I’d better be careful about saying that too loudly or life (karma?) will bonk me royally over the head.

My mother and I have survived nearly two years of life together under the same roof. Because her health issues, she needs quiet and simplicity. I am learning to clamp down on my tendency to overly explain myself. Inserting pauses that allow her to gather her thoughts. Knowing when to fill in the words she is struggling to say – and when to voice solutions that work for her.

So, I’m working to scrap off the old triggers and examine more thoughtfully what is happening between me and others. One event at a time.

© 2017 by Mary Louise Van Dyke. All Rights Reserved. The writer can be contacted at marylvandyke03@gmail.com.

Remembering a Captain who refused freedom

On this Memorial Day we honor those who died fighting for us in war. Capt Abraham Van Dyke of New York militia was imprisoned on a British ship following the Battles of Long Island and of Fort Washington during the Revolutionary War.

About 1700 Continental soldiers were imprisoned on ships in conditions horrific and rank. Hundreds succumbed to disease and neglect. Blankets not to be had even though it was winter time. Food scarce and foul.

The Captain refused an offer of freedom because he would not take his liberty if the men of his company remained behind imprisoned. The only option offered by the British was to fight on the side of the English.

Many soldiers of the New York patriots (like him) had been forced to flee their homes in New York City when the British took control there.

Abraham died on board the prison ship, March 1777, possibly of smallpox. Most of his fellow prisoners also perished with only  surviving to see freedom. Abraham’s wife and young daughter, living as refugees, also passed away that year. Only an infant son survived and was raised by his brother, Nicholas Van Dyke and his wife Charlotte of Delaware.

Abraham’s story is only one of the many who died in wartime.

To them — may we remember

Views of life

Right now I am deeply grateful for the varied glimpses of life I’ve experienced and observed, based on living in different locations around the United States, and being a reporter who covered numerous topics including religion and politics.

Reporting city council meetings brought me face to face with good folks on all sides presenting their cases on why city leaders must approve certain actions. You want disagreement? You’ll find it in the council chambers!

Sitting in varied religious places of worship where I focused on the elements we held in common. Whether in a Christian church, or mosque, or in a synagouge, beauty, prayer, reflections on the sacred writings are taking place. Along with little ones who are squirming to get free of parents and go run!

Yes illegal actions must be challenged. Stopped. Corrected.

Yes people’s rights as human beings must be affirmed and re-affirmed.

Certainly differences exist between us human beings. We all have differing views on life based on our experience, genetics, and views on life.

I writhe with frustration when these disagreements are played up to the max — possibly fueled by misinformation. No bridges of understanding allowed for. People saying “either you agree with me or you’re wrong wrong wrong!”

I can only speak for myself. My choice is to focus on we hold in common — and to show respect even when I don’t agree with the other person’s conclusions.

Peace be with you.

(C) 2017 by Mary Louise Van Dyke. All Rights Reserved.

For London

The Peanut Butter Years

For you in London, today is the day  life shifts

Tessaracts with the speed of light.

As unaware  you open the door

See the person who stands there

Sorry etched in shadowed eyes

Stumbling words poring out that mean nothing

Nothing!

But your heart quivers breaks rhythm

This is not real.

Beating thoughts rush through you of nights together

And this morning’s you saying pick up a gallon of milk while you’re at the store

And. All. Oh God all you wanted to say tonight

But tonight the supper already fixed will become rubbish fill

The comforter on the bed stay smooth

But there won’t be any comfort Not tonight. Maybe never again

As you plunge into the pit of unreality

Heaped on your heart.by those stumbling words

Of “I am sorry to say this… ”

By Mary Lou Van Dyke  © 2017

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For London

For you in London, today is the day  life shifts

Tessaracts with the speed of light.

As unaware  you open the door

See the person who stands there

Sorry etched in shadowed eyes

Stumbling words poring out that mean nothing

Nothing!

But your heart quivers breaks rhythm

This is not real.

Beating thoughts rush through you of nights together

And this morning’s you saying pick up a gallon of milk while you’re at the store

And. All. Oh God all you wanted to say tonight

But tonight the supper already fixed will become rubbish fill

The comforter on the bed stay smooth

But there won’t be any comfort Not tonight. Maybe never again

As you plunge into the pit of unreality

Heaped on your heart.by those stumbling words

Of “I am sorry to say this… ”

By Mary Lou Van Dyke  © 2017