20 April 2017

The Visitor From the Beyond

Another wonderful story from a member of my writing class.  I realize not everyone is a believer, but there are so many of these stories that I'm not sure how they can be doubt.  Even I have had some unexplained phenomena as well as my mother and my son.  Not everything has a clear explanation, but I do know that we, as humans, do not have all the answers and keeping an open mind is always the best.  Enjoy this wonderful piece.



                                   THE VISITOR FROM THE BEYOND


                                        1985-1998
Preface: I Valerie S. (surname withheld) being of sound mind and body and never having partaken in the recreational use of any mind-altering drugs past or present, do hereby declare that the events you are about to hear are real.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — One of the most defining and devastating moments of my life occurred on the morning of Feb. 18th, 1985. At 6:30 am the merciless ringing of the phone jolted me awake from my heavy-eyed dreamland. The unsteady, sobbing voice on the other end was my mom telling me that my father had passed away.  True to himself, my dad died on his own terms—at home, in his own bed, and next to his beloved, Alice, his wife of 48 years. He was 76 years old. That year a deadly pneumonia virus had brutally swept through the country killing hundreds in its wake among them my dad. That day the world as I knew it ceased to exist, and the once steadfast walls of my foundation crumbled beneath me. It would take me years to sort through the rubble and destruction and find the strength to move forward and make sense of my life again. I soon learned that I would not be alone as I navigated the murky waters on this tumultuous journey. Support and guidance would come in the form of a familiar and prudent visitor from the beyond.

Great Neck, New York — In June of 1985, I returned to my childhood home for a visit. I barely recognized my mom. In the four months since Dad’s death she had lost weight and had become frail and lifeless—her energy and sprit depleted. She was an empty shell of her former self. The once animated, feisty, red-headed-blue eyed Irish woman I called mom was gone.  She reminded me of a small, scared lost child. It was heartbreaking. The second night of my visit as my three children peacefully slumbered in the next room, I crawled into the security of my childhood bed and quietly cried myself to sleep. At one point in the night, I gently stirred as I heard the familiar creaking of the bedroom door as it opened. I assumed it was just mom checking up on me as she did when I was a child so I rolled over to continue my fitful sleep.

Then I heard the squeaking of the bedsprings and realized that someone was sitting on my bed. I presumed it was mom needing to talk so I rolled over to an upright position. It was not mom, but Dad. It was my Dad. I literally threw myself into his arms expecting air and a vanishing vision. Instead, his arms encircled me and held me tightly. It was real. Dad was actually there. He was solid and warm. I put my head on his chest and could hear his heart beating. He was dressed in his favorite outlandish paisley-print shirt—the one that mom despised. I checked his shoes, and as always, they were buffed and polished to a high sheen. I could smell the scent of lingering stale cigarette smoke on the fabric of his clothes. The aroma of recently consumed coffee drifted from his breath. He lovingly stroked my hair while he repeated his pet name for me, “My Wallerie (Valerie with a W), my Wallerie.”

We talked for what seemed like hours. He said he had already looked in on my children, and they were sleeping peacefully. He related that mom was tossing and turning unsuccessfully trying to rest in their marital bed. He asked me to watch over her and assured me that he would be around whenever I needed him. I watched him leave the bedroom.

I awoke the next morning with a happy heart, but in a state of confusion. My Dad’s fragrance still permeated the room and was now on my nightclothes. Had I been dreaming? My bed covers were askew, and on the spot where Dad had rested, there was an imprint. It had been real after all. I kept this encounter to myself not wanting to upset anyone and realizing how crazy it would sound if repeated. Three months later, my husband’s work transferred us to Wenatchee, Washington. I was forced to move to the opposite side of the country from my mom just nine months after our loss of Dad.

Wenatchee, Washington — Since relocating, things on the home front had gotten worse. My abusive husband’s drunken rages had increased in frequency and escalated. Many nights, unable to rest, I would wait until everyone was asleep and quietly slip from the house. I aimlessly roamed the streets enjoying the solitude of night and the obscurity provided by its cloak of darkness.

One evening as I approached the elementary school, I caught sight of a shadowy- silhouette propped against the chain link fence of the schoolyard. It appeared to be a man smoking a cigarette. Unnerved by his presence, I crossed to the other side of the road. Suddenly, a glow radiated from his being, and I heard him say, “Wallerie, it’s Dad.” Stunned, I remained frozen in place unable to move until a mysterious magnetic force compelled me across the divide.

Crying, I found myself submerged in Dad’s warm comforting embrace and mesmerized by his soothing words of wisdom. We sat on the wet dew laden grass and chatted until the sun began to rise in the sky. My heart was full and happy as Dad sent me home in time to greet my awakening children. 

My husband was already in the kitchen and eyed me suspiciously, as I appeared. He interrogated me as to where I had been, why the seat of my pants was so wet, and why I reeked of cigarette smoke. I just smiled and went up to wake the kids for school.

Dad came to visit me regularly for many years. He always seemed to sense when I needed him, and he never failed me. Sometimes I would see him in a crowed mall, a store, a parking lot, or a park. Dad had the magical gift to make time stand still. Everything and everyone would become frozen in time and motionless around us. Dad would spend the lapse in time, dispensing his sage advice and encouraging me to be a warrior and not a victim. He wanted me to take a stand and believe in myself just as he always had. He urged me to be hopeful and not hopeless. Then suddenly time would resume, and the movement around me would coincide with dad’s covert departure. These are to this day some of my most treasured moments.

In 1998, my mother passed away, thirteen years after Dad’s death. She was 80 years old. She may not have died of a broken heart, but she definitely died with one. Finally, Alice was on her way to be reunited with the love of her life. Shortly after mom’s funeral, dad paid me a visit.

Over the years, thanks to his support, guidance, and encouragement, I had been able to get my children and myself out of our abusive situation. By this point in time, I had been divorced for seven years, had sole custody of the three kids, owned a small home, and was gainfully employed by the Wenatchee School District. My children were thriving and so was their mother. With the help of my dad, I had finally turned a corner.

This particular evening, I felt compelled to return to the schoolyard where Dad and I had our first Wenatchee encounter. He was there waiting as I approached and after a warm embrace we exchanged pleasantries and caught up on the children’s activities. Dad said he wanted to show me a very special place, and he reached for my hand. I found myself standing in the midst of the most beautiful garden I had ever seen. It was breath-taking and hypnotic at the same time. The sweet floral fragrance was magically alluring and soothing. It was like a sea of beautiful colored flowers and lush green foliage interspersed with divine fountains of cascading waters. Carefree residents meandered through plush and vibrant landscape laughing, smiling and conversing. They donned flowing white robes. There were men, women, and children. The magnificent garden was punctuated with exquisite white marble statues. It was the most peaceful place I had ever been.

The sun shone brightly, but I was neither hot nor cold. As I took it all in, my Dad continued to lead me down a path lined with magnificent life-like figurines. Dad finally halted at a spot that gave us a full view of a stunning pool of light blue water. There was a radiant woman sitting on a bench singing a beautiful mesmerizing melody. It took me a second before I realized it was mom. I wanted to run to her, hold her in my arms. Dad held me back. “She can’t see you or hear you—no one here can.” He continued, “I wanted you to see our new home and how happy your mother is. This is how I want you to envision us every time you feel sad or miss us. This is where we will all eventually be reunited as the Southard clan once again. Yes, Wallerie, this is Heaven.”

I found myself back in front of the school. For the first time since I lost my beloved father, I felt whole.  Dad never visited me again. Thinking of them both now evokes a feeling of contentment and puts a smile on my face. They are where they belong-together. Their love story continues.

After this, I finally mustered up the courage to share my encounters with my sister. As I told my tale, she listened intently never giving me a hint at what she might be thinking. When I finished, she let out a monumental sigh of relief and confided that dad had visited her too on multiple occasions. She too had been to heaven to see mom! Maybe we were not crazy after all, but if we are, then at least we can blame it on genetics! Until we meet again Mom and Dad! Love you!

Epilogue: On Sept. 23, 2011, John Blake authored an editorial for CNN discussing the phenomena of paranormal encounters with people who had died. He gave what happened to my sister and me a name—crisis apparition. He explained, “A crisis apparition is the spirit of a recently deceased person who visits someone they had a close emotional connection with usually to say goodbye. Although such encounters are chilling, they are also comforting. These encounters suggest that the emotional bond often transcends death and is not erased.” 

It happened to me and it is my reality!  

Valerie S.
April 19, 2017

Living DNA - Launches Project in Germany


Living DNA

Living DNA has launched a project to determine identifying patters of DNA within Germany and surrounding regions.  They have partnered with Germany’s largest genealogical society, Verein für Computergenealogie e.V. (CompGen) which has 3,700 members.  Living DNA, a European based company is seeking individuals with four grandparents all born within 80 kilometers (50 miles) of each other.

Comments from the two companies:
David Nicholson of Living DNA:
“It’s a great honour to work with CompGen on this project, they have a vast understanding of the complex population structures of Germany and surrounding regions and we are all excited to see the results of the project”.

Dr. Tobias Kemper, genetic genealogist working for CompGen, says:
“We are thrilled to be working on this project which will show how the history of middle Europe – from the Roman Empire through the middle ages and the early modern period – until now has left traces within German DNA and their regional distribution.

The press release further states:
               The project’s aim is to map the genetic structure of contemporary Germany and surrounding
eastern regions (Silesia, Posen, Pomerania, East and West Prussia), which have been part of
Germany prior to WWI, with a special focus on the former eastern provinces (now part of Poland and Russia).

Those who qualify with the location of their grandparents would receive the test for only €89 + return postage (RRP €159), which includes lifetime membership to Living DNA.

Those who quality, but have already had their DNA tested with another company can transfer free of charge and have a complimentary lifetime membership to Living DNA.


So, let’s get to testing!

Best wishes,

Emily

Family Tree DNA's National DNA Day Sale

The National DNA Day Sale has begun!  Spread the news!  Order today!

The promotion ends at 11:59 pm Central Time on Thursday, April 27th.




NOTE:  Upgrades are not included.

Remember:  The more people who test, the more cousins we find!

Happy DNA Day!

Best wishes,
Emily

04 April 2017

Family Tree DNA Updates myOrigins



Family Tree DNA has exciting news! The long-awaited update to myOrigins is now available. 

The major points include:

1. Increased reference populations from 18 to 24, including the long-awaited Sephardic population, which is under the Jewish Diaspora category (see below). 
2. Updated design that includes an interactive landing page with the tester's percentages, which when clicked will display a description of that population. There will also be a separate list of all populations with those present highlighted in addition to the map with the Trace percentages are now available. Those populations found to be less than 2% of the person's makeup show as<2 nbsp="" span="">
4. The page resizes to be compatible with mobile devices. 
5. The database has already been re-run, so when the switch is flipped, customers will be able to see the updates. 






24 myOrigins Population Clusters
African          
            East Central Africa
            West Africa
            South Central Africa
Central/South Asian 
            South Central Asia
            Oceania
            Central Asia
East Asian
Northeast Asia
Southeast Asia
            Siberia
Europe
            West and Central Europe    
            East Europe
            Iberia
            Southeast Europe
            British Isles  
            Finland
            Scandinavia   
Jewish Diaspora
Sephardic Diaspora
            Ashkenazi Diaspora
Middle Eastern
            East Middle East
            West Middle East 
Asia Minor
            North Africa
New World   
            North and Central America
South and Central America


FTDNA is working on a piece for the Learning Center about the update, including detailed descriptions of the populations on the list above. 

Enjoy!
Emily

16 February 2017

Living DNA - New Testing Company


Originally there was one direct to consumer DNA company who stood out, namely Family Tree DNA.  Then came 23andMe and finally AncestryDNA.  These were the three major DNA testing companies for the genealogist and other interested parties for years.  However, new kids are moving to the block, and with a new focus on bio-geographical comparisons (admixtures) and one of those players is Living DNA!

Living DNA, a British company, does have an office in Louisville, Kentucky.  You order a test kit with two swab samples (no fluid) and mail it back to Eurofins Genomics (a partner) in Kentucky.  The testing is done in Denmark.

Testing results is an admixture (those “ethnic” percentages based on your autosomal DNA).  The company also provides the mitochondrial haplogroup and the Y-DNA haplogroup.  Although there is currently no matching feature nor chromosome browser, those will be provided in the near future.

What is unique about this company is that they provide testing to 80 world regions, and their focus is to test enough customers so they can pin-point locations within a country for your ancestors.  It allows you to see percentages and map locations for just your mother’s line, father’s line or both as well as some information on your haplogroup, a migration map and phylogenetic tree for each parent. Of course, this means it will be fine-tuned as more people test.  This test is especially helpful with those who have ancestors in the British Isles and Ireland.  You can view these 21 regions (so far) on their website going back in our ancestor up to ten generations. 

I know 38 of my 64 fourth-great-grandparents (which is 6 generations from me), and I only know about ten of those who are immigrants prior to 1800.  As all but one of my KNOWN ancestors were in the US by the early 1800s and that one arrived in 1838, I know a few general locations from where those immigrants came.  This type of test can help me determine where to search outside the U.S., but there are no guarantees that my ancestor lived in the specific area listed by any company’s bio-geographical comparison until I find that ancestor in the location.  However, it is interesting and may be most helpful to see what detailed variety my DNA sample can show.  I know my admixture will vary over time as more people test and more analysis can be made.

Know that this admixture (being compared with bio-geographical populations) has been the very reason some people test; that is, many who are not necessarily genealogists, but who may become interested in their lineage.  The more detail that a company can provide for the customer, the greater the interest by the public.  The more testing, the more advances we will see in the genetic genealogy field and that will benefit us all.

I always recommend that everyone test with a variety, if not all companies, in order to find matches in different databases.  As soon as this company gets its matching feature and its chromosome browser (to view the individual segments we share with our matches), the more this company will be able to compete with the others.


Click here to order a test.  

Jump in the new gene pool!  You may be my cousin!
Emily

Family Tree DNA - Updated Transfers from other companies!


It is always wise to play in more than one gene pool, and Family Tree DNA is making it easier for you to do that by allowing more transfers from other companies.  YEAH!!!!

Customers can now transfer their results from their 23andMe V4 chip and from their AncestryDNA
V2 files in addition to the 23andMe V3 and AncestryDNA V2 files to Family Tree DNA!!!!

In the coming weeks, those who tested at MyHeritage and Genographic will be also able to transfer.

Family Tree DNA still does not accept 23andMe results prior to November 2010.

Those transferring with the 23andMe V3 and AncestryDNA V1 results will receive a full list of matches and the ability to use the Matrix feature at FTDNA FOR FREE.  For only $19, the customer can unlock the Chromosome Browser, myOrgins, and ancient Origins.  (Frankly, all this is definitely worth the $19!!!)

23andMe V4 and AncestryDNA V2 results receive all but the most speculative matches (6th to remote cousins) for free.  If the customer wishes the speculative matches, they will have to submit a sample to FTDNA and have the Family Finder run at the reduce price of $59 (reg. $79).

Matches for transfers would take from one to 24 hours to appear, depending upon the volume of tests waiting to be converted.

More wonderful news....

myOrigins will be updated in the coming weeks.  Until then transfers will include only broad populations.

All previously transferred files that have not been unlocked will receive their matches and have access to the Matrix feature for free as long as the release form is signed.  This can be signed online from your personal webpages.  AND...these kits will also be able to unlock the other Family Finder features for $19.  IF the transfer was on a kit with another product where the release form has already been signed, then the matches will appear with not additional action necessary.

The Autosomal Transfer webpage now includes a new image and a FAQ section at the bottom of the page.

If a person tried to transfer the same autosomal file a second time, there will be a message with the kit number of the original kit.

See the Learning Center (bottom of an FTDNA page) and put Autosomal Transfer into the search box to see the most current information.


Know that if you transfer results to FTDNA and you wish to purchase an additional test (Y-DNA or mitochondrial DNA), you will need to order a kit, but be sure to use the same kit number you are given at your autosomal transfer.  One person; one kit number ALWAYS!

Hope you transfer...you may be my cousin!

Best wishes,
Emily















04 February 2017

2017 SCGS Jamboree Webinars

Although the bi-monthly Jamboree Webinars have already begun (started in January), there are plenty more to come!

These presentations are free when first aired and for SCGS members the 100 sessions are available at any time free.  Register at : http://www.scgsgenealogy.com/webinar/jes-index.html
Details can be seen at the Jamboree Webinar website.

For a small taste of those coming soon:
Wednesday, February 15   6:00 PM - 7:00 PM PST
Presented by Denise Levenick, MA

Saturday, March 4   10:00 AM - 11:00 AM PST
Presented by Mary Kircher Roddy

Wednesday, March 15  6:00 PM - 7:00 PM PDT
Presented by Diane L. Richards

**Special Webinar rescheduled from 2016**
Wednesday, March 22  6:00 PM - 7:00 PM PDT
Presented by Tessa Keough

AND...does anyone look familiar in that poster?  LOL

Enjoy!
Emily

02 February 2017

Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree 2017

Jamboree 2017Registration is Open

This year from June 8th to the 11th at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel (Burbank, California), Jamboree is again gathering wonderful speakers and classes.  Jamboree reaches many levels of genealogists and genetic genealogists from the beginners to the advanced. I am again privileged to present classes and a workshop (also a Webinar in early August) for DNA Day on Thursday and a free workshop on Friday.  Of course, this is along with other wonderful DNA speakers.  For the remaining days of Jamboree many well-respected genealogist will give presentations on a wide variety of subjects.

This year’s theme for the “DNA Day is Diving into DNA” which is in its fifth year as an addition to the Jamboree’s genealogical presentations and covers topics for all levels of knowledge from many of the field’s leading instructors.  Several DNA authors will be available to meet and will be selling their books. This event requires a separate fee from the genealogical portion of the event, but as using DNA is the most accurate tool for your genealogy, it is important to understand how it can help you.

I'll be speaking on: 
Thursday 10-11 a.m. - TH010 - How to Convince Relatives and Strangers to DNA Test and Why
Thursday 2-3 p.m. TH018 - ABCs of DNA
Thursday 5-6 p.m. for TH028 Meet the Authors
Friday 8:30 to noon - workshop FR-A I've Tested, but What Now?

Saturday, August 5 at 10:00 am PDT, I will give a FREE webinar entitled:  Using atDNA to Verify and Expand Genealogy.  tinyrul.com/2017-SCGS-Webinars

For the genealogy portion of the event is “Hunting Your Heritage” which includes presentations on the British Isles, Ireland, Armenia and the Caucasus as well as African American Research. In total, Jamboree has 80+ speakers, 155+ class sessions and 15 workshops along with one-on-one research assistance, research tours, banquet and breakfast speakers, and an exhibit hall with vendors and societies.  The Exhibit has is free all weekend. Something for everyone!

Join us!  Register now!

Emily


31 January 2017

RootsTech, Feb 8-11 Salt Lake City


RootsTech is just around the corner, and many of you may be going!

I will be speaking this year on writing your childhood memories and family stories as well as on the basics of using DNA for your genealogy.

For those planning to come, here is my schedule.  Stop by and say hello!

My events:

Feb 9, Thursday, 12:00 - MyHeritage Lunch at 355B

Feb 10, Friday, 1:00-1:30 - The DNA Q&A at MyHeritage booth, RT17

Feb 10, Friday, 4:30-5:30 p.m., (GS9546) Writing Your Childhood Memories and Family Stories, Room 155D

Feb 10, Friday night - The After-Party at the Marriott City Creek Grand Ballroom

Feb 11, Saturday, 3:00-4:00 p.m., (RT9542) Supercharge Your Research with DNA, Room 150

I will have a few copies of my book with me, but I must sell them outside of the conference.  Please designate which book is of interest:
     "Memoing" Your Memories:  A Simple Technique for Writing Your Family Stories
     Genetic Genealogy:  The Basics and Beyond

You can email me to bring one for you, also.  This way I'm selling it here and just delivering it to you.  My email:  aulicino (at sign) hevanet (dot) com

AND...MOST IMPORTANTLY, youo can download the schedule and all the handouts for free by adding the RootsTech 2017 app to your smart phone.  (Just scroll to the bottom for the app or find it at the App Store on your phone.

Hope to see you there!
Enjoy,
Emily