Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Morning Rambles

Like the star that
shines afar,
Without haste and
without rest,
Let each one wheel
with steady sway
Round the task that
rules the day,
And do their best.

Johann Wolfgang
von Goethe

Oh my, it is hard to believe how quickly this weekend passed by. It seems the more you have to do, the quicker the time goes, leaving one with no time to do the things that they love to do. In other words, leisure is hard to come by on my cooking weekends. On Saturday I barely had time to stop and catch my breath.  There was food shopping to do in the morning and cooking it all in the afternoon. It's a bit more time consuming here because the supermarket is a bus ride away, and this bus route has the worst weekend schedule.  In times' past, I would have walked it, but the pain keeps me from doing it.  Then, after I get home there is the wait for the delivery which usually comes about 1:30 pm.  In my old neighborhood, I had to race to beat them home, and cooking began before 12. I realize they had me spoiled, and, so what if I have to wait. I'll take what I have now over the old place any time.  I am loving it here, and please don't think I am complaining in any way. 

The weather this weekend was unbelievable. Incredible weather. The sky was so blue, the sun was shining, and the temperatures above normal.  I felt like running away to the ocean rather than racing home to cook. It sure was the day for it, and I find so much comfort there. And comfort was needed this weekend. Mother's Day is such a bittersweet time for me. 

I found my comfort in the absolute love of my sons. I've made many mistakes, but they have always been there for me. Perhaps it is through the love I received from them that I learned to understand and forgive my own mother.  We do our best, and that is all any of us can do. Much like her, I lived through a loveless marriage, but I was able to walk out and start over again.  In her day, women just didn't do things like that.  They stayed together for the sake of the children. Perhaps, perhaps if she had the opportunity that I had, perhaps things would have been different.

When darkness came, it was time for me to observe this holiday honoring my female ancestors. As any genealogist knows, finding the matrilineal line can be a great challenge. Most women abandon their maiden names and adopt their husband's surname. Some I found had a family member living with them making it easy to find their maiden name. Others I found on "Find a Grave", Genwebs, and other such sites. Others, I may never know more than their first name--Temperance, my 4th great grandmother on my dad's side and Susan, my 3rd great grandmother on my mom's side. These are the ancestors who have been lost in the shadows of time. Know that you are not forgotten. 

In honor of Mother's Day, I gave myself a special gift yesterday. I ordered the Maternal Lineage DNA Test from Ancestry. It's been something I've wanted to do for years, ever since I read 'The Seven Daughters of Eve' by Bryan Sykes.  Mr. Sykes is a geneticist who identified seven women who lived between 10,000 and 45,000. This book really touched me and make me appreciate those who came before me in a different way. Ninety-five percent of us with European ancestry can trace our matrilinial line back to one of the following 'clan mothers':

Ursula is the 'clan mother' who lived about 45,000 year ago in Europe. For almost 20,000 years, she and her descendants shared the land with the Neanderthals 

Xenia and her clan lived about 25,000 years ago, just before the deepest, darkest cold period of the last Ice Age.

Helena and her clan lived about 20,000 years ago in southern France. Helena's clan is, by far, the most widespread and successful of the Seven Daughters of Eve. Her children have reached every shore,

Tara and her clan lived 17,000 years ago in northern Italy during the last Ice Age. This was about the only parts of the continent where life was possible.

Velda's clan lived in Spain 17,000 years ago. Her parents had journeyed during the Ice Age to this warm refuge which they shared with the clan of Ursula, who had retreated from the frozen North. 

Katrine's clan also lived in the north of Italy, but nearer to the Alps. Katrine lived about 15,000 years ago. Hers is the clan of the famous 'Ice Man.'

Jasmine is the most recent of all the 'clan mothers'. She lived  about 8,500 years ago. The Ice Age was over, and she and her clan didn't have to live through the hardships of the other six 'clan mothers'.

What makes this book so special is the way Sykes tells their story, bringing them alive in what is most likely the actual circumstances in which they lived. For example, the story of Xenia begins:

'Twenty thousand years have passed since Ursula's death. It was now twenty-three thousand years before the present and the world was even colder.  The Neanderthals were gone and modern humans had Europe to themselves.' 

and goes on to,  

'Xenia was born in the wind and snow of late spring. Even though it was already April, the snow that covered the land in winter was still on all but the lowest ground and lay in thick and filthy slush around the camp site. Xenia herself was born in a round hut, about three metres in diameter, whose frame was constructed almost entirely of mammoth bones.'

I get goose bumps when I think of these women and realize that one of them is my very earliest maternal ancestor, the greatest of my great grandmothers. She was the first. Of course, you know I've dug the book out again and am re-reading it for the umpteenth time. Rarely will you see me recommending books, but this is a must for all of us. It is a special book about some very special women who, when we honor our ancestors, we must honor them as well.  They fought the cruelest of weather and circumstances in order to bring us life. 


  1. Wow - thanks so much for the book recommendation. I know I would really enjoy this book. I have very little information on my ancestors but have scraped up ever bit I can.

    I hear you re: the days off. They fly by and there really is very little time to relax and enjoy. Oh well, our clan mothers didn't have it any easier!! :)

  2. Mary, I am so fascinated by this book. The far past is such a fathomless blur that it is difficult to imagine that one of these women could be the mother of us all. I am truly excited to get this book. Thank you so much!!

  3. i have been thinking of getting the dna test myself...can't wait to hear what you found out.

  4. Sounds interesting. Maybe someday I'll order and read this book.
    ......and YES, the weather Sunday was awesome.

  5. How exciting! I remember your previous posts about this book. I can hardly wait to hear what your Maternal Lineage DNA Test will reveal!

  6. "Perhaps it is through the love I received from them that I learned to understand and forgive my own mother." I agree with this, completely and whole heartedly. It is too bad that my mother died before my son was born so I could tell her.