UNDER THE HALO – THOUGHTS AND IMPRESSIONS OF AN ANGEL
– Written By: Kelly Grace –
About fifteen (15) years ago, I asked my father’s older sister for a family history. I grew up knowing more about my mother’s side of the family tree than my father’s. So, I asked the family historian, my Aunt Pat. She wrote me several letters over the course of a year or so that included stories of my grandparent and great grandparents. In 2009, I signed up for a free 30-day trial of Ancestry to build a family tree and see what I could find. I was not expecting much, to be honest. I put in the names she gave me and lo and behold … leaf hints popped up. Over the course of the next 30 days, I built a fantastic family tree. Each leaf hint was carefully examined and evaluated and only added if it “fit.” A budding genealogist I was! At the end of 30 days, I had a beautiful tree that stretched back into the 1100s! Someone had done some great documenting and I was the lucky beneficiary. I found all sorts of fascinating people! William I of England (known more commonly as William the Conqueror) Duncan of Scotland (for you Macbeth fans), Lady Godiva…
Most importantly, I nailed down where my father’s ancestors came from – England, Scotland, Normandy, and Scandinavia. His ancestors came across the North Sea from the Scandinavia and settled first in the Orkney Islands on one branch, and others come up from Normandy to England. Moreover, our family name was a sept of the MacPherson clan. Dad was fascinated. He had no idea he was Scottish, and the famous names tickled him pink. “Kiss my ring!” he would laugh and hold out his hand.
I have made two trips to England and Scotland. I have stood on the shores of the Orkney Island. and looked out over the water. There is a word in the Welsh language, hireath, which describes the longing for one’s ancestral home. I felt this, standing on the shores of the Brough of Birsay. I planned my trip at low tide so I could walk across the land bridge. I examined the remains of Viking houses and the Pictish symbols carved into the rocks. I felt connected to the land, the water, the people that had been there thousands of years before.
But the joke is on me because my DNA tells me I am 0% Scots 0% Scandinavian 0% French Norman. Those tears I cried while standing where I thought my ancestors came from were … meaningless.
My husband and I used to joke about the fact that he was Irish (his family name being associated with the physicians to the Irish clan chiefs) and my being Scottish. As Stephen says in Braveheart “It’s MY Island!” Well Ireland may have been his (and the husbeast’s) island, but the Orkney’s were MINE
Except that they are not, not anymore. Not really. . Joke’s on the husbeast too, he is not an NPE, but his DNA shows negligible amounts of Irish and mostly… Scottish and English – he has MY heritage.
One of the hardest things for people to accept when they find out that they are an NPE/MPE is the loss of heritage. I cannot tell you how many times I have worked with clients, and they are in mourning not only for a loss of a Father/Family, but the loss of a shared heritage.
For some people, it is not a big deal. For others, their whole world is rocked. I did not grow up knowing I was Scottish on my father’s side. Most of my ethnic identity came from my Mother’s Sicilian side. Her parents were from the same small village in Sicily, my father was not close to his family, and we never really knew his ethnicity. Possibly Irish, which explains why my mother named me Kelly. Why was I so upset over losing a heritage I had only known about for a few years?
Again, there is that feeling I had … standing in front of the White Tower in London, walking the streets of Edinburgh, crossing the bay into the Orkneys, walking down the main street in Kirkwall, driving down B roads near Loch Ness, standing on top of the Norman keep in a Welsh castle. My heart was so full to bursting with emotion … and none of this was mine.
But here is a secret for you. William the Conqueror is also known as William the Bastard, for although his father was a Duke of Normandy, his mother was a laundress, and he was what was referred to then as “base born.” He was not entitled, some would say, to his inheritance of the Dukedom, and certainly not to the title of “King of England.”
But claim it and inherit it he did. And so, like William, I am going to claim my OWN inheritance. I may not Scottish born, but I AM my father’s daughter (Doubt me? I may not resemble him in any physical way, but I am his image in the ways that it counts, the traits I have inherited from him have left an imprint on me just as visible as my mother’s dark eyes and my paternal Grandfather’s wild, unruly hair).
It will always be MY ISLAND.
Read Volume 7 @ Musings of An Angel – Volume 7