Legacy Lite

For only $99, one of the ancestor search sites offers a simple DNA test that can tell you a lot about who you are and where you come from. Where you come from may be easily discerned, but who you are is vastly more complex than anything a DNA test will tell you What testing and ancestor searches won’t give you is what you come from. And it’s the what that stitches together the who and where into deeper meaning and knowing, It’s the what that holds the complexities of cultural, spiritual, and intellectual heritage.

My maternal grandmother used to tell us we were related to Lady Godiva. She delighted in sharing this dark family secret, always careful to tell us when no one else was Lady Godivaaround. Perhaps she was avoiding the possibility of being contradicted but I suspect it was more likely a factor of modesty. After all, the woman was riding naked. And although this 11th century English noblewoman was protesting her husband’s oppressive tenant taxations, that was never part of what we were told. For my grandmother the whole and only point was our relationship to a famous person. Riding naked was just a provocative bonus.

Being related to a famous person. Like striking gold while mining for family history. But without the contextual story, it’s just a name. A woman riding nude through the streets of Coventry is interesting. Lady Godiva’s story is fascinating. And it’s story that holds depth of meaning. Anything less is just legacy lite.