My DNA test processed faster than my dad’s test at 23andMe because of course it would. Still, I found my results and the information there interesting and I had a whole new set of DNA matches to busy myself with, though I had no idea what to do with these people. I got a new admixture estimate as well; that’s the part of DNA test that most people are interested in: the ethnicity estimates report. It returned heavily weighted to, “British Isles,” which was different than my ethnicity report at Ancestry. I wasn’t sure what to make of it.
My mom’s DNA kit arrived and I made plans with her to test one night when my brother and his wife would be out of the house. Unfortunately, they decided to be home that night (of course they did) so we’d have to take the DNA show on the road. I decided to take my mom out to dinner instead. She was on medication for her health issues and had mentioned that she was concerned about being able to produce enough saliva for the test. I brought a couple of packages of sugar; I’d done my homework. If you put a little bit of sugar on your tongue, you’ll salivate like a St. Bernard. Good to know!
“I can’t spit in a restaurant!” my mom protested as she got in my car. She had a point. Doing that would be pretty disgusting. “We can do the spitting in the car,” I offered. “Okay, but not here. Not in front of your brother’s house,” she replied. I highly doubted that my brother was in his house, watching us sit in a car, in the dark, but okay. I’d do whatever it took to make her feel comfortable. “Which restaurant parking lot do you feel like spitting in?” I asked. “How about Mimi’s? Do you feel like having that chicken and fruit salad?” “No, I can’t eat green vegetables anymore,” she said matter of factually. “The doctor says salad is out.” The physician she was working with was a good one but he was endlessly removing items from her diet. My mom was a good patient and would follow orders precisely. Had her doctor told her to stand on her head and whistle, you better believe she’d do it. She was the complete opposite of my dad who took medical advice from his doctor as mere suggestions he could take or leave; as if the question were whether or not the blue tie looked better than the grey one with the suit he was wearing. A few years ago, my father had his gall bladder removed and was taken off all fatty foods. He did his recuperating at my house because I figured I’d need to keep an eye on him. Before I left for work one day, I told him, “The refrigerator is stocked and I’m a phone call away.” He nodded and I kissed him goodbye. I returned from work to find a half empty pizza box on the dining room table. “Are you kidding me, dad?! What’s this?” I asked him, carrying the pizza box into the living room where he was seated watching ESPN. “Oh, now settle down. I’m fine. Those doctors don’t know what they’re talking about half the time.”
“What’s your diet consist of now, Mom? Grapefruit seeds and glasses of water?” I asked as I put the car in gear. “No, I can’t drink a lot of water anymore either,” she replied. “Just little sips throughout the day.”
We arrived her local CoCo’s restaurant because it had salmon and baked potato on the menu; two things that her doctor hadn’t forbidden, yet. I parked my car away from other cars, but not so far that it’d be a long walk to the front door for her. “My mouth is so dry, Laurie,” she said as I handed her the tube. “I don’t know how this is going to work.” “I brought sugar,” I replied. “I read that if I put some on your tongue, it’ll help.” I reached into my purse and tore open a little package of sugar. The lighting was poor and being nervous to get it over with, I hadn’t thought to shake the package beforehand. In trying to get it on her tongue, I inadvertently dumped a bunch of it on her face. She started laughing uncontrollably which made me laugh. “Yikes! Sorry about that! Are you okay, mom? I didn’t get any in your eyes did I?” I asked. “No, I’m fine,” she laughed as she brushed off the sugar. “Did I get any in your mouth?” I chuckled. “Not really,” she said. “Maybe you should do the sugar part,” I offered. She took the second sugar pack, shook it, opened it up, and put a small amount on her tongue. She then took the tube and spit like a champ.
Inside the restaurant, we ordered our dinners and chatted. I kept wondering how I could casually steer the conversation into the subject of my paternity. Finally, about a half-hour in, I saw an opening. “You know, what I find crazy is the fact you say that you never dated anyone while you were separated from dad. Why wouldn’t you? You were really young…what, 25 years old? Why didn’t you want to date anyone? Didn’t you want to go out and have fun?”
“Well, I went out with my girlfriends from time to time, of course. We’d go dancing, listen to music. We had a great time,” she replied.
“Dancing? With like, guys? Are you sure you didn’t, you know, meet someone fabulous?”
“Not that I remember,” she replied as she took a forkful of salmon.
I caught that. The subtle shift from “absolutely not,” to “not that I remember.”
I laughed, “Not that you remember? What are you, Ronald Reagan testifying at the Iran-Contra hearings? Not that you remember?”
“Are you looking for some plausible deniability here, mom?” I chuckled. “You’re killing me. Are we going to next debate the definition of the word, “sex?”
“Well, I mean, no…” she stumbled in her speech as she lifted her glass of water, “It was a long time ago, you know.”
“Were you with your vagina the entire month of January, 1964?” I whispered over the table.
She had just taken a sip of water and coughed, laughing.
“Oh God, Laurie,” she laughed. “You’re funny.”
“And…what? I know you, mom,” I said, smiling, “You’re on the verge of spilling some beans here. Let’s have it. Come on.”
“Well, there was one guy I dated really briefly. It’s impossible. There’s just no way!”
I couldn’t believe what I just heard. Clearly, it was possible. But if I reacted emotionally, she’d stop talking. “Who was he? What’s his name?” I asked.
“Tim Timmons,” she replied.
“Oh, lord…that can’t be right. That’s the name of that christian music guy.”
My mother was horrible with names. The absolute worst. Her inability to get names right is a long running joke in our family. It wasn’t that she had a hard time remembering them; she’d remember some part of a name and then just fill in the rest with some gibberish she thought was correct. She’d butcher the names of everyone, even well-known celebrities on the regular. “Did you know that Charleston Heston is running the NRA?” she once asked my brother and me. She’d probably heard the name “Charlton Heston,” ten-thousand times in the course of her life and she still screwed it up. What are the odds she was getting this right; a name she heard and said forty-eight years ago? Pretty slim. Still, there was probably an element of his actual name in there somewhere. Maybe. Or maybe she was lying; just wanting to be honest enough to admit to something without revealing any details.
“Well, that’s what I remember,” she said earnestly.
“Okay, well, how’d you meet? What’s the story?”
“I met him at a night club,” she began. “I told you that I’d go out from time to time with my girlfriends. He asked me to dance. He was a terrific dancer. A very nice man, too. I say that because he didn’t mind that I had three little kids. Not many men will date a woman with kids, you know. Anyway, it wasn’t anything serious, I mean your dad and I were just separated and I didn’t want to get into another serious relationship. We didn’t date very long, a few weeks, maybe.”
“Did he live near us? Did you bump into him regularly?”
“No, he lived in Massachusetts. He was only in Maine during the week. Just for business.”
“If you could only see him during the week, he was probably married, right? How old was he? What did he do?” I couldn’t get the questions out fast enough.
“No, he wasn’t married. He was about the same age as me. He was in construction, I think. Not a worker, like an executive or something like that. He wore a suit. It’s impossible though. There’s just no way you can be Tim’s kid!”
I now had something to work with: A nice man from Massachusetts who’s a good dancer, 75-ish years old, and with a name that may be something like, Tim Timmons. Or not.
Yeah, this ought to be a snap.
Perpetually curious. I love history, genealogy, old movies, good books, all sorts of music, and adventures involving travel. In my spare time, I help admin a genetic genealogy Facebook page for CeCe Moore ("DNA Detectives") and coach people how to connect with their biological family using DNA.