Growing up, I never knew much about my heritage. All I knew, was that my dad was born in Colombia and my mom was from New York. It wasn’t until I grew older, that I started to become more and more curious as to where my family truly came from.

I never imagined that joining Ancestry.com would turn into a passion, well more of an addiction if I’m being honest.

With every green leafed hint, popping onto my screen, I would get closer and closer to a story, to an everlasting truth buried in the dust of time. Creating my family tree started as a hobby, but quickly became an investigation into documents from hundreds of years ago to family secrets discover from more recent years.

I found farmers, ironworkers, food vendors, painters, paper printers, engineers, soldiers and to my dismay, lots and lots of housewives. I stumbled upon colonists from Jamestown, to wealthy landowning aristocrats and royalty. Turns out Queen Elizabeth II is a cousin, who would have thought?   

I found a family I never thought I had. There was my great grandfather, Ernest, who died on my birthday with my dark hair and green eyes. He suffered a mysterious death, unsolved to this very day. There were my great-great grandparents, The Mercher’s, whose origins can not be traced through any documentation I have found.

Every dead end in the paper trail keeps me going. Every story and every branch of my family’s tree has a great importance to me.

But, the research can’t tell me everything. The documents can’t tell me WHO they were. The dates can’t show me the details of the past, but my Aunt Diane can.

My Aunt Diane is my grandfather’s younger sister. I never got the privilege to know my grandfather; he died before I was born. My Aunt Diane has the pictures and the stories that I have never seen or been told. She has the key to the past with the power to bring me with her.

Because of her, I can take a glimpse into the life of a man I never knew, but will always love; my grandfather. Now I know that he loved Doo-wap music and sang Murray the K religiously. Fighting in Vietnam wasn’t a choice for him but according to my aunt, he would never dream of running to Canada, to avoid the war. He liked landscaping and counting coins just like my grandmother and just like me, who would have thought?

Getting my DNA tested was another phenomenal experience. Turns out I’m 25% Western European, 22% Native American, 15% Southern European, 9% Iberian Peninsula, 8% British, 7% Irish, 5% Scandinavian,  4% Eastern European, 2% Caucasus, 2% African, and 1% Central Asian. Before taking this test, I never could have imagined how diverse my DNA really is.

Now I know where my ancestors came from. Now I know where I come from.

 

With much love,

Alex Palacios