“It’s supposed to rain today,” my husband says, opening the closet door and selecting one of his new shirts.
“Oh no!” I say. “Just when we’ve gotten Chica all clean and prettified.”
Chica is the mutt we adopted from Slum Dog Rescue. She’s a funny critter with a big personality and very long hair. We had her groomed last Saturday. Now her long hair feels like silk, her nails are clean and she smells good. But smelling good and feeling silky won’t last. Nothing does. She’ll get muddy and wet in the back yard today.
When I picked her up on Saturday, the groomer said, “We were trying to figure out what kind of dog she is. She’s unique.”
“I know. She has a wonderful personality,” I say. “What do you think she might be?”
“I don’t know,” she says. “We couldn’t figure her out. She’s kind of shaped like a basset hound, but her hair and face is almost like an English sheep dog. And she’s so cooperative. Whatever she is, she’s a good one.”
“I know,” I reply. “She’s the perfect mutt.”
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I’ve never had a pure bred dog. Never wanted one either. Maybe I like mutts because, as it turns out, I’m pretty much a mutt too.
I got my Ancestry.com DNA test results back this weekend. Bob and I sit on the couch perusing them together. “Martha, you’re a human melting pot,” he says. “Are you surprised?”
“No,” I say. “I knew the de la Garzas were all mixed up. That’s what my mother said the first time Daddy took her down to Brownsville right after they got married. She met Tio Carlos, with his blue, blue eyes and said, “Law me, you people are mixed up!”
The de la Garzas were originally from Monterrey, Mexico. During the upheaval of the Mexican Revolution (1911) my grandfather picked the whole family up and moved to Texas. He didn’t go far; the family home in Brownsville wasn't much more than a mile away from the International Bridge.
With his brown eyes and black hair, Daddy looked Hispanic, but his uncles and father, whom we called Papa Teyo, had blue eyes. Still, I always thought there was a Native American cast to many of the faces in the de la Garza family, something in the chiseled bone structure and cheekbones.
I was right. My Ancestry.com results show that I have a significant percentage of DNA from Native American tribes, specifically from the Mexican states of Tamalipas and Nuevo Leon, and south Texas.
But, as Bob observed, I’m a veritable human melting pot with DNA from Western Europe, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Britain, the Iberian Peninsula, European Jewry, Finland/Russia, Scandinavia, the Middle East and even a tiny bit from East Asia and Polynesia.
Like my darling Chica, I am a unique mutt.
+ + + + +
As I ponder my Ancestry.com results, I wish everyone in the U.S. could take a DNA test. With our country's legacy of slavery and immigration, I imagine many Americans would find that they too are mutts.
I wonder if knowing how mixed up our DNA really is might go a long way towards eradicating racism, prejudice and white supremacy. Very few of us are pure breds.
I’ve heard it said of our country that ‘diversity is our strength.” I believe that’s likely true not only on the macro, national level, but on the micro, personal levels as well. Strength, goodness and talent can be found in every race and ethnicity.
My ancestry results have given me a lot to think about. I’m not disappointed to discover what a mutt I am. On the contrary, I'm delighted.
Over the last few days, I've found myself studying my own face and eyes in the mirror and giving thanks to my ancestors from all over the world who contributed to my make up.
Like Chica, the other mutt in the family, I’m a good mixture.
Are we not all good mixtures, my fellow Americans?