Say It Isn't So

Sunday, August 28, 2005


My father, upon his retirement, decided to trace the family tree. He told me that if you go back just 20 generations you have a million ancestors. I did the math and to my utter astonishment he was correct. It seemed impossible because there were easily 4 generations at the same dinner table at one time in my life, but you can't just multiply that by 5. Roots don't work that way!

For my Dad it was a labour of love with emphasis on the labour. Book after book after book, most of which are kept by the various churches of this world. They recorded the marriages, the births and the deaths of the past. It was not possible to get everything he wanted because documents were destroyed. The earth, wind and fire take a toll. Rats and mice :( take a toll. But he managed to get quite far back anyway. All the way to 1785, 1787, and 1800 to my great, great, great grand parents. Some from my mother's side of the family and some from his. He was doing it for us so he included my Mom's tree also. That gets me the names of almost all 16 great*** grands. For me that's only 6 generations, for my grandson that is 8! I am very happy that my father started down that path. I hope to keep the data string going because the record keeping has changed hands and the retrieval of this kind of information may become more difficult to obtain.

It is believed that those of us who have MS come from mostly a northern European ancestry. Also that each of us has spent the first 7 years of our lives in a temperate climate. Could it also be that we all have a common ancestor. It may only take one.


At 8:34 AM, August 29, 2005, Blogger mdmhvonpa said...

My family started down that path too. We never seem to get very far since we kind of loose interest. I have the stuff somewhere in the files though. Apparently I'm related to Lewis & Clark on my Father's Mother's side and we got all the way back to our immigrant parents on my mothers side from Bohemia. Cool stuff, even if you are not a Mormon.

At 9:49 AM, August 29, 2005, Blogger mouse said...

Yeah, I think it's great to have it. Something for your descendents to ponder. They will arrive at an age when they will actually be interested in it too. My dad got back to the French Huguenots coming to America, then heading up to Canada as Loyalists at the time of the revolution. My famous ancestor would be the grandfather of the inventor of the Chocolate bar back in 1895, my great great grandfather Thomas Carleton Ganong. Lewis and/or Clark, eh, now that's the Pioneer Spirit.

At 11:05 PM, August 29, 2005, Blogger almodiva said...

How I wish I could pinpoint it to one common ancestor. It's hard to shake off the idea that I brought this on myself. Sorry for the pessimism, but I have a feeling that since the causes are so unknown and multiple at the same time, it will be impossible to find a single cure... okay, no more negativity.

At 8:22 AM, August 30, 2005, Blogger mdmhvonpa said...

alamodiva ... I'm about to post a little ditty about common ancestors on my site ... It's the damn vikings!

At 9:45 AM, August 30, 2005, Blogger mouse said...

Almodiva, I know the feeling that this has come about as a sort of punishment but please don't stay there. The person's that have MS are good, kind, loving people, and I am sure that you are one of them too. A cure will be found one day and we will help to bring it about.

At 2:07 PM, August 30, 2005, Blogger Michelle said...

Hmm.... good post. My mom has myasthenia gravis, again another autoimmune disorder. That makes me wonder sometimes about the autoimmune factors and relationships. I know MS is not an immediate family disease, but autoimmunes are more common within immediate family units. My sister always jokes she wants one, too for Christmas. I think she thinks she's funny, LOL. Well, maybe it's a BIT funny :o)

At 5:37 PM, September 23, 2005, Blogger Amy Byrd said...

Very interesting post, Mouse. My mother did our family tree and the amount of information is huge! She never got back to the one ancestor, but it is really neat to see it all. I love checking out the names! It has been tradition in my family since forever to name children only from within the family. I am the fourth 'Amy' in a row, and stupid me - I broke that tradition with my daughter. How I regret it now! I did stay with family names for her - Pierce Katherine Byrd - but I just wonder what I was thinking when I let go of the 'Amy' tradition. My grandmother was quite the aristocrat and insisted on using all of her names: Esther Marion Seabrook Connor. Signing checks must have been fun for her.

I read three of Matt Ridley's books: GENOME; THE RED QUEEN; and NATURE vs. NURTURE. All about genetics, and tracing the genome obviously. Naturally, inherited disease was a huge deal in the books. He maintains that the future of biochemistry will solve some of the worst inheritable diseases. I believe it will happen one day. Maybe stem-cell research will happen before that and at least stop or cure the diseases once they've set in.

Here's a good quotation from Salman Rushdie about the basic questions one asks when writing a novel. I think they can be applied even if you're not writing a novel: "To what extent are we the masters of our fate? To what extent do we make our lives, and to waht extent are our lives made for us by forces beyond our control?" He goes on to answer the questions he poses, but the answer is not germane to pondering that there might have been something you, or anyone, 'did' to bring the disease on. It's bad enough to deal with having a disease like MS without adding the burden of guilt. That kind of thinking destroys an already stressed spirit.

I love that one of your grandpa's invented the chocolate bar. :) No, I don't! I eat too many of them!!

At 7:45 PM, September 24, 2005, Blogger mouse said...

Amy thanks, I will have to look into those genome books, one day when I have more time:)


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