Unlocking The Past

“What password should we use?” I asked my father-in-law down the phone.

I was setting up his online account so he could see the results of the DNA test we gave him for Fathers Day.

I’d done mine (post: Do These Genes Look Good On Me) and was so super excited about the results we’d set about giving the tests as presents to a few people this year, like our parents and Great Grandma Lawrence.

I think seeing your genetic history on a map is exciting. To know where your ancestors came from. To learn something of your heritage. And this is the gift which will keep on giving – free upgrades will be issued in coming years as more information is entered into the DNA system.

I thought it was a great present.

Whereas, if I’m honest, Tracey’s dad seemed a little bit blasé about the whole thing. I wondered if maybe he’d rather socks. Essentially, the whole endeavour had a vibe of having given him the Bruce equivalent of the Homer bowling ball.

“I don’t know,” his voice grumbled in my ear.

“Maybe make something up which you don’t use elsewhere,” I told him, “because otherwise I might accidentally empty your bank account.”

“You’re there,” he said. “You do it.”

“Too easy,” I said, typing for a bit. Then I declared, “Well, that’s it then. All you need to do is spit into that tube and send it off.”

“Mmmm,” he said by way of thanks and hung up.

He’s not much of a communicator, Tracey’s dad. The first time Tracey brought me home to meet him I’d knocked on the door and he opened it. He took size of me and then walked back into the lounge room without a word. Slightly taken aback, I’d looked worryingly at Tracey as she come out to met me and drag me in.

“No, no, that’s good,” she’d assured me with a kiss. “He didn’t slam the door and lock it. He must like you!”

That first meeting has pretty much set the tone for our relationship – and he wouldn’t be well pleased to hear me describe it as such. Don’t get the wrong idea, his gruff manner is part of his charm. He’s a good man and I like him a lot, and I think he likes me, even if he would never say as much. Well, he’s never locked me out of the house in any case. He just likes to tease me.

And occasionally I take great pleasure in giving a bit back.

A few weeks after he spent a morning indignantly spitting into a tube and posting it off I got a call from Tracey’s mum.

“They emailed,” she said. “The results of the DNA test are ready.”

“Awesome,” I said eagerly. There’s a rumour of distant Egyptian ancestors on Tracey’s side of the family. Wouldn’t that be great to prove! “All you have to do is log into the site and they’ll be there. Click on the map, just like the one I showed you for mine.”

“That’s why we’ve called,” she said.

She explained she was standing behind my father-in-law, who was seated in front of his computer waiting for guidance. Specifically-

“What’s the password you put in?” she asked. “Can you remember?”

You bet I could. I’d been waiting for this moment for three long weeks!

“I love,” I said succinctly into the phone, “Brucie. All one word. No gaps, no take backs.”

There was a pause.

Then she burst out laughing and repeated it to her husband.

There was another pause, followed not by chuckling but instead by the sounds of a ruckus.

A chair was being scrapped along the floor and there was definitely some low grumbling.

“You do it,” I heard him say to his wife. “I’m not typing that.”

Tracey’s dad doesn’t like photos so much but looks a bit like this. They’ve even named their dog Bronson.

Raising a family on little more than laughs

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