Every so often or so, you read those weird stories in the newspaper or a magazine about someone who finds out, like, after 50 years or so, that they were adopted. Or they have an adopted brother or sister that they never knew about…or something else truly stunning that leaves you scratching your head, thinking, "Wow. How weird to not know that about yourself after all this time."
I didn't just find out that I was adopted or anything, because that really WOULD be freaky…and besides, as crazy as my mother is, I have NO doubt that I am truly her biological daughter. (She's probably reading this right now, so let me insert here that I love her, craziness and all…hee hee.)
No, I didn't just find out I was adopted…but I DID just find out - a month ago or so - that who I THOUGHT I was…was not quite accurate.
Based on family lore, as well as my own genealogical research of my family, I knew that I was pretty much German on my Dad's side, because with a maiden name of "Wagner" - there wasn't much doubt. Duh. Although my great-great-great grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian, who was called "Brownie" by her husband and family, giving me a bit of Indian blood…which is rather cool, I think.
So, that was my Dad's side. As far as my mother's side, the story had come down that her maternal family was German, and her paternal family had come to the United States back in the 1700's from Wales. For 50+ years, I had assumed that I was German-Welsh-American Indian...and left it at that. Rather boring, but what can one do with family heritage??
This past January, I was in Ft Myers, Florida, and took my aunt to a Celtic Festival…I blogged about it here, if you want a refresher. Anyway…as we were wandering around the festival, I couldn't help but look around at all the people who were proclaiming their Irish and Scottish pride…and I was a bit envious. How I wish I could have been sporting a festive t-shirt, proclaiming my heritage - but there aren't that many t-shirts floating around that say, "Proud to be Welsh" - or "Proud to be German-Welsh-American Indian" - etc, etc.
My aunt heard me sighing, and asked what the problem was, so I quickly explained:
Me: I have t-shirt envy. I wish we had a t-shirt that had OUR heritage on it.
Aunt: What are you talking about? We DO!!!!
Me: No, we don't. Look around…there aren't any t-shirts that say, "Kiss me, I'm Welsh!"
Aunt: WHAH??!! Welsh??!! We're not Welsh!!!! Our family came from Scotland!!!!
Well. Upon further research, I discovered that my maternal grandfather's family actually originated in Tipperary, Ireland…eventually moved to Scotland…later, moved to Wales…and THEN emigrated to the United States.
Do you know what this means???!!!!
It means - KISS ME!!! I'M IRISH!!!!!
Woot, woot! You can not EVEN imagine how excited I was to learn this! I can wear a t-shirt now! I can celebrate Saint Patrick's Day and not feel like a fraud! I can eat corned beef and drink green beer! Well. Actually, I HATE corned beef and beer, so scratch that last one - but you get the drift.
It DID feel rather strange to JUST be learning this after fifty years…to just now be finding out a piece of yourself that you didn't know existed, so to speak…but hey. I'm happy. It explains a lot, actually - especially the part of me that likes to tell an audience a story, right??!!
Now - if you'll excuse me…I have fifty years of Saint Patrick's Days to make up for, so I'd better get busy.
* "What's the story, horse?" — abbreviated as "story horse?" — is how you ask a buddy what's up in Ireland. It's a less breezy greeting than its American counterpart, and invites the other person to really dive into what's been going on in life.
**Our family's coat of arms