Over the Thanksgiving meal, our family conversation drifted to family genealogy. It’s an interesting topic in my family because we don’t know a lot about our ancestry, especially on my father’s side. The conversation started, as it usually does, with comments that one or another of us remembering Big Mama, my grandmother, having said about our heritage. In this case it was my sister recalling Big Mama’s frequent rant that Debbie was “just like those Whitlocks!” As best we can figure, the Whitlocks were some of my grandfather’s relatives and they were prone to emotional outbursts.
The conversation then tends to cover Big Mama’s statements about the Indian blood that leads to a noticeable lack of body hair and then on to other topics. This time the conversation stayed with that Indian blood thing. My sister proposed that our father may have been half Native American. It was a thought line that had never been considered before in my presence, but it somehow made sense … and then it caused me more concern than I would have guessed. You know how people find out as adults that they were adopted into their family and the knowledge knocks their world off center? Well my reaction wasn’t that strong, but it was much stronger than I would have guessed.
My father’s background is a mystery because there is no record of who was his father. His mother would never tell out of fear that the man would be lynched. Now we’ll never know as she took the secret to her grave. Before my sister’s Native American theory, I always assumed my paternal grandfather was black, and I really didn’t give any more thought to him than that. Now I’m obsessed with knowing more and have no way to find out.
I sure hope they don’t tell me later that I was adopted.