My Epigenetic Legacy

In my last blog, I listed Rob Lowe’s Love Life as one of my favourite books from 2014. I was especially moved by his discovery of his family history about which he says “I believe we’re all influenced by our epigenetic legacies”. He goes on to say “I am the son of my grandfathers. I sometimes imagine I feel them in my blood guiding me” (page 159). These two sentences have not left my mind. I twist them and turn them. I play with their meaning.

Epigenetic Legacy.

What is my epigenetic legacy?

How is it that the granddaughter of two illiterate women is a doctoral student researching the treatment of and attitudes towards romance fiction? Does their blood guide me? How did their blood impact my parents, and in turn, how did my mum and dad’s blood impact my life? Though my grandmothers were illiterate, their children were/are not illiterate. The few opportunities to learn to read were grasped by both my parents.

My mother, who mostly reads biographies, has the most incredible ability to read textiles. Her schooling was minimal as she was born in the Pindus mountains of Northern Greece in 1938. Her childhood was heartbreakingly difficult, losing her dad and five of her siblings due to World War 2 and the Greek Civil War. She first attended school when she was 11 and by 13 she had moved to attending textiles training. My mum can spin and dye wool, tat, embroider, knit and weave with incredible skill.

A tapestry my mum made of a gypsy woman meeting with St George

A tapestry my mum made of a gypsy woman meeting with St George

Once, my mum, while travelling home on a train for twenty minutes, examined the complex knitted jumper the person in front of her was wearing. She came home and within two days had completed a replica of this jumper from memory. It was similar to an Arran Isle pattern. She had no need for the written instructions. Her understanding of patterns and spatials and technique was sufficient. Though my mum taught me to knit and to embroider, I am an amateur, coarse in my needlework execution.

This is a legacy that I do not feel running in my blood. Continue reading

Easter thoughts

It’s Easter, and I am sitting at my mum’s place while my nephew and niece sleep and the rest of my family attends the midnight service. It is my favourite church service of the year. The church yard is filled with hundreds of people chatting – Greeks can be irreverent – until the priest comes out of the church spreading the Holy Light and everyone starts singing Χριστός Ανέστη (Christ has Risen). It is a sea of flickering lights as everyone has a lit candle and the Resurrection hymn is beautifully sung by hundreds of people in unison. Though I’m not at church, my mum’s home being only 100 metres away means that I can hear faint voices carrying up the hill. Easter is filled with rituals for my family and surprisingly, this year we will be forgoing one of our most steadfast traditions. We are not having a midnight feast. This is great for our digestive systems but sad that there is no offal soup to be had.

 

(Note: I can hear the bells ringing. It is midnight).

As much as we are doing away with the midnight feast we have slaughtered our annual lamb which will be cooked on a spit and we will be having egg wars, albeit with difficulty. Earlier, I discovered my mum’s painted eggs have been cracked already.

Cracked Red Eggs

 

My mum had left the eggs on her dining room table and her younger grandchildren got excited and started cracking them. It is funny but it reminded me of a terribly sad story that my dad would tell me: Continue reading