Early Advent, just before Madonna and child begin to appear on Christmas cards, I went to the Cancer Risk and Genetic Assessment Center at our hospital. Because my mother died of pancreatic cancer, my doctor suggested I be scanned to see if I carry the gene mutation that tends to cause it.
A woman brought me into a small office and pulled up my genogram on her laptop. She turned the screen toward me and reviewed the basics, how half of my genes came from my mother, and half from my father. She showed me a chart of genes and zeroed in on two: BRACA1 and ATM. If either of these is broken in some way, she said, the risk goes up.
I suppose I should have been concentrating more on what the counselor was explaining to me, but my mind followed my heart in the moment, and I felt an unexpected, deep closeness to my mother. Half my architecture she created. Half my blood is hers. I may have inherited from her a crippled line of life-code, but that is only one fragment clinging—perhaps—to the curled helix of DNA within me. What crowds my mind is the whole of her donation. I am half her. And maybe just a bit more. Women inherit 50% of their DNA from each parent, but men receive approximately 51% from their mother and 49% from their father. That’s it, I thought, I am my mother’s boy. I was always more like her than like Dad.
In the way that like often repels like, I was not close to my mother. When she died I felt as if I had never really known her. With the possible exception of my father, perhaps no one ever did.
In the 24 years since her death I have only lately been able to cry for my mother. I want to capture those tears in a bottle.
A moment later her blood is half flowing from my vein into a clear vial. I always look away when they take my blood, but this time I look. Mama, I smile, there you are! So that’s where you’ve been hiding.
David – I have loved reading your meditations each day and having your voice guide me through Advent. What a beautiful piece…thinking of you AND your mom today – I sure am grateful for the unique, special architecture she created.
David Anderson says
Thanks, Lida–it’s wonderful to share my thoughts and reflections–and hear back from readers who share amazing insights. It’s the kind of Advent community I want to be part of.
David, these advent meditations have been wonderful. I open each wondering how it could be as good or better than the last and yet it is. Thank you giving us this little gift to start each day.
David, I learned a bit of science today; much more of love. Thank you so much.
Sandy Oldfield says
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this
Isn’t it amazing, how our mothers (and fathers) live on in us? Isn’t it amazing, how our genes combine to bring to the world someone unique, and yet so connected? Thanks, David.
Dan C Tootle says
David – Although I have not met you in person yet, I do know you through your wonderful wife and daughter (Maggie). I still am hopeful to be with you at some point, but as I am now 80 years old with travelling days largely now behind me, that looks like it will remain a wish for now. From all that Maggie has told me about you, the many times she has shared your family times together, and being able to gain so much from you Advent writings, you are an “absent but not far away” ray of sunshine in my life. I’ll be thinking of you quite often as time goes forward.
Cathy House says
David, I love the way the Spirit blesses twice, once through your writings and once from so many of the thoughtful comments that have followed.