Well, colour me verklempt!
For a couple of reasons – first, it’s been now a year and two days since my last TIA and I have been symptom-free ever since – hoorah!
Second, I did a DNA test with Ancestry.ca and my results bear credence to a family mystery. Behold:
Who my mother’s father was (is?) has always been unknown, at least to my mother and her siblings. My Oma didn’t talk about it. But the family story goes like this: my Oma was in love (and pregnant by) a Jewish man – they wanted to get married but because my Oma was not of the age of consent (21, in the Netherlands back then) she couldn’t marry without her parents’ permission. And that was not granted by her Christian Reformed family. I guess having a child outside of marriage (and preventing my mom from having a dad in her life) was less sinful than marrying outside of the faith?!?
Sheesh, is it any wonder I have such a dim view of religion? My mom was whispered about, shunned, and rejected by people because she was born out of wedlock – as if she had anything to do with the circumstances of her existence!!!
After having to confess her transgression(s) to the church elders, my Oma was sent to Rotterdam, to bear her “sin”…and my mother (product of aforementioned “sin”) was born in 1936 in a Salvation Army home for unwed mothers. That was the story. Then later, I was told the story wasn’t exactly true. Mom’s dad now wasn’t Jewish – he just refused to convert to Oma’s family religion.
However, thanks to Ancestry DNA, it seems that the original story was the truth! Mom would have inherited half of her dad’s genes and I have inherited half of Mom’s genes. So given the randomness of DNA mixing, I could be up to 25% Jewish in heritage. The math works.
However, I can’t call myself Jewish because to be born a Jew you have to have a Jewish mother. The dad doesn’t count. This is explained here. I am sure Hitler would have disagreed so perhaps that is why there were conflicting stories floating around about my mystery Opa – to protect my mom from being picked up during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands?
My dad and his cousin did some digging of their own years and years ago (both are gone now), and said they located the man. He was working in (and possibly owned) a pub in Scheveningen (?), and I also heard his last name was De Jong. My mom did not want to proceed any further because she didn’t want to disrupt his life and the life of his family after all these years, with the sudden appearance of a “bastard” child. Which I disagreed with, but it was not my decision to make. I suspect that she just couldn’t face the possibility of even more rejection, even this late in her life – so who can blame her for that?
Now I am hoping, through Ancestry, to finally find out who the mystery Opa is, or could be. According to the website, they have other members who are distant relatives of mine – 4th cousins – who are Jewish people – who I have never ever heard of and are not connected to the family tree I am building (yet!).
I have to work up the nerve to contact them and see if they can help solve the mystery of the missing Opa. Surely after all this time has passed it will no longer be so scandalous?