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Have you mapped your family tree?

How many of you are interested in your genealogy? Have you mapped your family tree? What about inheritance? Did you inherit curly hair or blue eyes? What about future health?

A news story last week piqued my interest. I have already drafted a family tree. I have inherited hair that is slightly wavy and eyes that are brown like my mother’s. Recent physical exams say I’m healthy — without any forecast of inherited future ills.

I have an interest in these topics because I’ve inherited my father’s diaries — small leather-bound booklets with entries for every day from January, 1916 until the 1980s. Those diaries gained new importance from last week’s news announcement of an increased interest in “genome sequencing” — whatever that is.

That term was unknown to me, but now I know that a gene is part of the DNA inherited traits. I think the “sequencing” means stringing then together. Currently the laboratory process costs between $4,000 and $10,000. People spend that much to learn what they inherited — potential diseases, likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s, need of hearing aids or whatever.

My interest is not in diseases but personal characteristics. If a string of genes can predict long lives or athletic ability, what about the ability to tell or write stories? Is that a talent or characteristic that can be inherited? Is there a gene that signals that? I hope so, since I enjoy telling stories.

In fact, story telling is a current No. 1 goal. I hope to translate into an eBook some of my dad’s daily accounts of serving in the United States Army Air Service and flying in France during World War I.

Indeed, even after the war his life continued to be geared to aviation. He was an aviation insurance claims adjuster and included Lloyds of London among his clients. He was a friend of many famous early aviators like Rickenbacker. (Dad was the official timer for the speed record for a flight from Chicago to New York City and was a regular official at the Cleveland Air Races.) His stories about the war and the years that followed are fascinating.

I’m counting on an inherited trait of storytelling to fit my plans to turn Dad’s stories into an eBook along with pictures of him in his flight suit, his army wings, the Spad fighter planes and other aircraft of the era. The manuscript that has gathered dust on a closet shelf since 1984 is in pretty good shape. If it becomes a great success, I’ll look forward to a broader definition of genomes.

Stories for Positive Aging is a semi-monthly column on senior issues written by Lake Oswego author of “ Facing Age, Finding Answers”Ardis Stevenson. She can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by regular mail at 17440 Holy Names Drive, Lake Oswego, OR 97034.



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