//I added the following metatags
Posted (crates) in nature on September-18-2008

I got a call at work thirty minutes ago…my father said that my beloved mother and his precious wife left us at 9:40 pm CDT.  She was surrounded by all her children (except me) and by almost all her grandchildren.  I was not present because I thought I’d work a bit more to earn the money to fly down in the morning.  There is a lesson here.

I knew that I had made the wrong decision when I called my father at 3:30 pm, and found everybody at the hospital.  He said that it was about time for her to go, and everybody had gathered to say their last words to her and to comfort her with their presence when she left.  Everybody but me that is.  I was not there for my father because I put my priorities in the wrong place.  I was going to fly out of here this morning, but decided to work instead and fly out in the morning.  If I had done this then I could have shared this experience with my family.  Now, I have a few more bucks in my pocket instead.

My sister-in-law called a few minutes after I had talked to my father.  She said that the hearing was the last to go, and that if I wanted, she would put the phone up to my mother’s ear so I could say my last words to her.   So I did…

After that I called my daughter to tell her that her Granny was very sick in the hospital.   My daughter cried bitterly and said that I would never know how much she loved her Granny, because when she visited her in Texas, and left the hell-hole in which she lived, it was one of the few times that she could relax and be a child and bask in the love and attention that was always denied her.  She didn’t put it in these exact words, but I remember that when she was a tiny, little precious girl, she said something to that effect, and I knew that was what she was expressing now.

She also cried over the fact that she had meant to visit her Granny these past two years and hadn’t.  I told her that it was just human nature at such times to blame oneself for what one could have done.   “If we do anything,” I told her, “we should remember the lessons that we learn during these times so that we can always show our love and our affection for each other in the future.”

Later I called her and told her that her precious Granny had passed on.

I’ll finish working tonight.  I am debating whether or not to tell anybody that my mother has passed away.  There’s really nobody that I care to tell.  There’s no use in going home either.  What would I do at home?  So I’ll stay on here until 2 am, pay somebody $20 to take me to the shuttle pickup at four,  and will catch the plane at 7:40 am tomorrow exactly 12 hours after my mother left us.

Posted (crates) in People, Personal Stuff on September-13-2008

At times it is almost overwhelming watching my father hold my mother’s hand and tell her that he has loved her since she was fifteen years old. This December they will have been married sixty-six years. My father will be 84 and my mother 83. She still will kiss you when you bend over to kiss her, and when you say that you love her, she will answer with “I love you.” And at times that wonderful sweet smile of hers will break through the darkness that clouds her mind, and you know that somehow, somewhere there is an essence of her lingering on.
I tend to think of the human brain as being composed of trillions of little lighted rooms, one for each of the cells that it contains. In a well functioning brain, I imagine it filled with pulsing, racing light. My mother’s brain I think of as a flickering dimming system, the lights slowly going out as the ravages of Alzheimers turns off the lights one…by one.

If there was a beginning, then let it begin here. It was 1940 and it was between classes at Crowell High School. The handsome young man was going up the stairs to his class. He had recently transfered to this high school because his own school in the nearby small town of Truscott had closed, and all the students were being bused to Crowell. This was in West Texas near the point where the eastern edge of the panhandle meets the Red River–in that part of Texas where the soil is red and sandy and the imagination is inspired by the views which stretch out to forever.

As he climbed the stairs, he passed this beautiful girl whose dark hair fell down past her shoulders, and whose lovely face, slim figure and hazel eyes immediately attracted his attention. He walked a few more steps and then paused to look back at her. Much to his surprise, he saw that she had also paused and was looking back at him in admiration. This is the way that my father and mother met.My mother

The options were limited in that small town if you wished to take your girl on a date. Fortunately, my father’s best friend, C. J. Kelton’s father had a car and let his son use it, and he would drive my father and mother all about. I have seen photos of all of them on the bridge over the North Wichita River, laughing and having fun. My father with his football letter jacket and a white scarf about his neck, standing besides my smiling mother, my father and C.J. standing with their arms about each other’s shoulders. There also photos of my dad and C.J. in their football uniforms. Dad played quarterback his senior year and C.J. fulback.  My mother was a cheerleader.

As their love grew and as all the young men were being drafted into the military to spend their lives in the war machine of World War II, they knew that they didn’t have much time until my father also would have to serve and would be swept up into the dark maelstrom of war. They decided to marry in their last year of high school in December, 1942. They spent their honeymoon in the hotel in the nearby “big” town of Vernon on the town square with the courthouse in the center. In later years they would both delightedly point out to me the upper story corner room where they stayed, as we passed by on visits to my grandparents.

Both my father and C.J. graduated from High School on a Friday, and on Monday, both left for their military training, my father into the army and eventually the army/airforce, and C.J. into the marines. My father survived the war, whereas C.J. died a hero’s death on the black sands of Iwo Jima (Fifth Marine Division), winning the Navy Cross, and leaving a hole in both of my parent’s lives. My father is 84 and has lived a long, loving life, whereas C.J. died  (KIA Kelton, C.J. Pfc 5th Tank 5th Feb 22, 1945, Iwo Jima) at the age of 19 and his bones have lain in those dark volcanic sands of Iwo Jima for 63 years.

My mother’s beauty was matched only by her personality.  I have known lots of people over the years, and I know that I am prejudiced, but she has the sweetest, most endearing personality of anybody that I ever have known unless it was her own mother, who if anything was even more sweeter.

My FatherAnd it is upon the love of my parents for each other and upon the love that they gave without reservation to me and my siblings which has been my steadfast rock throughout my life.  It has been upon this assurance that formed the foundation of my life and has allowed me to weather the sorrows that life can hand out.

The love and tenderness of my mother towards not only the people around her, but also toward all of God’s little animals filled me with a reverance and love for all living things.  Her appreciation of the beauty about her, and her communication of this to me has remained with me all my life, allowing me to live and appreciate the now of my existence.

My father’s quiet gentleness and strength, and tolerance and forebearance has also helped to form what I am.  Over the years my admiration for my father has grown greater and greater.  I have come to realize that I have unconsciously tried to imitate him throughout my life, trying to become the man that he is.  This is something that I have only recently come to realize.  I have also come to realize that this amazing man is not only my father but my very best friend whom I love with all my heart.

I received a call from my father this morning letting me know that my beloved mother has been admitted to the hospital.  The prognosis was not good according to the doctor.  My brother and sister and father were all there keeping vigil.  I called back a few hours ago and the situation had improved slightly.

All stories must end.  And this particular love story has entered its final chapter…in once sense, and in another sense,  the love generated by these remarkable people will go on and on…like ripples from a stone dropped into calm water, radiating outward and touching shores undreamed of.

Posted (crates) in genealogy, Genetics, Personal Stuff on September-8-2008

         For many years I have been interested in the history of my family.  The advent of computers has sped up this process and recently a new tool has been added to the process–DNA analysis.  

           Recently when I was in Texas, I noticed that the genealogy web site, Ancestry.com, had a half price sale on their DNA tests.  I had been wanting to perform these tests for a long while but was unwilling to shell out the big money to do it.   I broke down and ordered the tests–the Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA test for me and the mitochondrial DNA test for my father.

          There are several other companies that offer the most common tests being done at this time–the Y chromosome test and the mitochondrial DNA test.  The Y chromosome is of course the chromosome that determines maleness.  Males have the X and Y sex chromosomes, whereas females have two X chromosomes (XX).    During the formation of the eggs and sperm (meiosis),  all the so called homologous chromosomes which contain the same basic type of DNA, pair up and often exchange segments of their DNA (crossing over).  This results in the changing of the base sequence which is the genetic code. 

          The Y chromosome is a small chromosome and crossing over with the X chromosome normally doesn’t occur as often as it does with the other pairs of chromosomes (Check out my entry on June 21, 2007 for more information on the Y chromosome).  As a consequence the sequence of bases on its DNA doesn’t change around as much as other chromosomes.  Any changes in the base sequence usually comes about by mutations, or small changes in the base sequence.

          The rate of this mutational change can be estimated, and since the genetic code on the Y chromosome is not as subject to natural selection as is the code on the other chromosomes (autosomes), this mutation rate can be used to estimate how long ago a change occurred when comparing the Y chromosomes of two different men.  Also the Y chromosomes can be compared to see how closely related two men are.

          The mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) is a whole ‘nother creature.  Whereas the nuclear DNA is passed from one generation to the next via the eggs and sperm (gametes) and controls the various genetic traits through the synthesis of enzymes, the mitochondrial DNA is not found in the nuclear chromosomes but in the mitochondria which is a small structure (organelle) in the cell which is responsible for the aerobic reactions of cell respiration–combining food with oxygen to produce lots of energy.

          The mitochondria has a fascinating history, and is believed to be a once free living bacteria, partly based on it’s loop-shaped chromosomes, as opposed to the rod-shaped chromosomes found in us and other Eukaryotic creatues.  Check out the endosymbiotic theory when you have time.

         Once again, like the Y chromosome, the DNA in the mitochondria is not that subject to the influence of natural selection and it does not go through a shuffling process (independent assortment) or crossing over as the nuclear chromosomes do, thus it will not change unless a random mutation occurs.  Apparently the mutation rates in mDNA is higher than the nuclear DNA which makes it useful in comparing lineages.

       The Y chromosome is passed from father to son and can be used to determine information about a male’s paternal ancestry.  The mDNA is found only in the area outside of the nucleus, thus sperm can not pass on mitochondria from the father since only the head of the sperm (containing half the normal number of chromosomes) enters the egg at fertilization.

       The egg (oogonium), on the other hand being a large cell, contains mitochondria which are passed on to the cells of the resulting children after fertilization.  Thus the mDNA is only passed from mother to offspring of both sexes.  Therefore, the mDNA is useful for determining information on the maternal ancestry of a person.

          I am now receiving the information on these tests and will in the coming days talk about the results.

  I couldn’t resist including this model of DNA copied from Wikipedia