this is my dad. and this is us, holding up a plate of chicken liver on toast… a dish he grew to truly dislike as a little boy because his mom made it often and a dish that i tried for the first time after taking this photo. spoiler alert, i was nervous to try it after he shared stories of hiding his bites in his napkin or under his plate when his mom wasn’t looking, but i actually didn’t mind it at all!
i’ve always loved hearing stories from my dad’s childhood, because the majority of them are so mischievous and funny. he was raised in the heart of chicago, on the northwest side, the middle child of five kids, and someone who still to this day, finds the best parts of life to celebrate with one of the most optimistic attitudes i’m always hoping will rub off on me a little more.
growing up, i feel like my siblings and i always knew more about my mom’s side of the family, her ancestry, heritage, all the yummy ukrainian, slovakian, and polish food from her roots and when we did see extended family, it was mostly always from her side. i think a big reason was because in their last years of life, my mom’s parents came to live with our family as they dealt with health issues, so naturally, we children grew very close to our grandparents as they were a constant staple in our childhood and teenage years at home. my mom’s side of the family is amazing, and i have loved knowing them so well. but as i’ve grown older and had children of my own, i’ve often wished i had a better knowledge of my dad’s family life and history, and i regret that i didn’t get a better chance to get to know my grandparents on his side when i was younger. specifically my late grandma, before her passing.
when 23andMe reached out to see if i had any interest in trying out their 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service, i was really excited for two reasons. the first, i had already used their service on my own 4 years ago in april 2014 with josh when we sent in and completed our own DNA kits. at the time, we found the entire test process to be super quick and the site easy to navigate and use as we learned more about our DNA and certain inherited health conditions for us and our future family and the second reason being, i thought this was the perfect opportunity to have my dad complete a DNA kit as well, so we could put together and compare our ancestry composition, and have a good excuse to sit down together, and finally go through photos and videos from his ancestors and hear more about his mom and her upbringing in scotland as an early father’s day celebration.
when my dad was in town a few weeks ago, josh printed a couple dozen old photographs my dad and uncle sent him from my grandma’s line. i had never seen any of them before! we spent the morning going through all the different people pictured while my dad told us stories. my grandma was born and raised in scotland and didn’t come over to the united states until she married my grandpa and came over in her mid twenties. i loved hearing more about my grandma. she was an amazing poet who had notebooks upon notebooks filled with poems that would come to her in the night. i also realized she had an incredible knack for photography, as many of the photographs we looked through were the sweetest candid photos of her friends and husband, taken by her!
and i could not believe this photo of my dad with his own father and siblings. do you see that little boy in the far right corner? that’s my dad. or is that samson?! can you believe the resemblance? i can’t believe how much they look alike!
for those of you who aren’t familiar with 23andMe, their Personal Genetic Service was created to help people better understand their DNA. you order the kit, spit in the tube, and register online. return shipping of the kit is prepaid, and within about 6-8 weeks, you have online access to in-depth reports about your DNA like your ancestry composition. since my dad had just completed his own kit, we were able to connect our accounts and directly compare our ancestry composition and other reports. they also have a DNA Relatives tool so if you choose to, you can discover other DNA relatives who have opted into the tool as well through their service.
my ancestry composition shows a mix of regions. the broadly northwestern european comes from my dad. it was really fun and informative when my dad and i were able to compare our wellness reports side by side on the 23andMe site and see some of the things my dad and i both have in common. for example, we both are “likely to consume more caffeine,” have “muscle composition common in elite power athletes,” and are “less likely to be an especially deep sleeper.” all of this makes so much sense when i think about it.
in my own wellness reports, i also learned that i am likely to be lactose intolerant, something that josh kindly reminds me of when we are about to order dessert and something that i am in constant denial of! i’m scared to be officially tested because i’d rather just not know. lol.
after a morning of hearing more about my dad’s scottish roots and heritage, we grabbed lunch together at the spotted pig so i could try some of his favorite food from his upbringing, chicken liver! just kidding! i already told you he doesn’t fancy that dish whatsoever but i was curious to try it.
i really love my dad so much. he has been struggling with MS the last few years and i’ve never heard him complain about it. he’s such an optimistic person, who is the biggest kid at heart. my childhood memories are filled with him getting on the floor and playing with us for hours. i’m really thankful that he made the time for us. and always put his family first.
thank you to 23andMe for sponsoring this post. visit 23andMe.com/LoveTaza to learn more about their father’s day promotion going on right now!