My husband and I are really into genealogy. We have spent hours and hours researching our family histories. When it came time to research my dad’s ancestry, I hit a roadblock. I couldn’t find any records past my great, great grandfather in Quebec, so I got my dad a DNA test. The results came back with J2 being the haplo group, and fortunately he had some 67 marker and even 111 marker matches. The J2 haplo group was a pretty surprising result. This haplo group originates in the Middle East. J2 is found more widely in northern middle east. Were my ancestors Jewish? Were they Arabs? I became obsessed with the idea of who my many great grandfathers were and where they came from.
The highest concentration of the J2 haplo group is in the Ingush and Chechen people. I pictured my dad over there in Armenia or Russia wearing a turban. It tripped me out.
My dad’s name is Ivan. Now that’s a strange one for a guy born in Quebec to French/Scottish and English/Irish parents. His brother’s names are Bill, Ron, Roger and Ash. Why did my grandparents name my dad Ivan? Chances are they didn’t know why themselves.
Dad used to quote the old song “Ivan Skavinsky Skavar”. This song was written in 1877 by Percy French, an Irishman. It’s about a Russian and an Arab having a duel, depicting, they say, the Russo-Turkish war of the time. Sometimes I look for little coincidences that are related to my story, such as, Percy being my grandfather’s name and that both these Percys were Irish. Here’s a short animated video clip from 1941 enacting the poem:
Then there’s the bizarre story about Lawrence of Arabia doing his crazy stuff during the first world war. My dad’s middle name is Lawrence. I thought there’s another connection to the middle east.
Ivan the Terrible was Prince of Moscow from 1533-1547. He was Czar of Russia from 1547 until his death. He reportedly had a very bad temper even killing his firstborn son, his heir. Terrible was a good adjective for him. Well my dad also had a bad temper, and we often laughed about and referred to him as Ivan the Terrible. One time my dad got really angry with me and he chased me until I ran into my bedroom and locked the door. Next thing I know the Incredible Hulk, Ivan the terrible, eyes bulging and blood-shot, face purple, is breaking my door down. Then for some strange reason he decided to go get a stick to hit me with. That was my out, I jumped up and found an escape route! I ran like the wind to the barn and hid until he calmed down. We can laugh about it now. But ya I can relate to my dad possibly being of the same DNA as Ivan the Terrible. Don’t get me wrong. I love my dad and we actually had a very close relationship, but he just had that crazy explosive anger problem. And I was a lippy teen. The combination was a little scary.
But the craziest part of the story is that in 2008 we returned to Canada after living in Korea for 7 years. I needed to go home. I was burnt out with teaching and living in a foreign country. Amazingly enough, a job came available at my former workplace, so the pieces seemed to fall into place. My husband and I moved home and that spring was my dad’s birthday and we paid for him to get the DNA done as a gift. I don’t know if he thought that was too exciting, but it was for me. I’ve been on a mission to track down my ancestors ever since. Little did I know how significant it was that I get that test done. Dad and mom were on their way down to Yuma, Arizona. Their first night was to be spent in Lincoln City, Oregon. My dad had been driving 11 hours. He was dog tired. They had to cross the street from their motel to get something to eat. I guess my mom was ahead of my dad. My dad didn’t hear too well and she yelled for him not to follow her right then. He couldn’t hear anything apparently because a car was headed straight for him. He was hit and instantly killed.
Getting that DNA test done felt like it was God giving me that one last piece of my dad before he left this earth.