Choosing my favorite picture is like choosing my favorite dessert. There are just way too many choices! Instead of trying to pick just one photograph, I decided to instead think about what I wanted to write. I figured that would guide me to the perfect picture.
I decided on this one, which is of me and my papa (Richard Burns). We are in the basement of my grandparent’s condo, putting together our annual talent show. The talent show was just me and him doing a variety of random things. There was usually a little singing and dancing, maybe a fashion show, but it was always guaranteed to be full of laughter. We would set up shop in the living room and put on a full production for the rest of the family.
Some of my best memories growing up were with my papa. He was the best playmate and the one always getting me into a little bit of trouble with my grandmother. We had a special bond that nobody could really explain. The amazing part is that my papa and I share no DNA. That’s right, my papa and grandmother were married just two years before I was born. It was a second marriage for both of them.
I am always fascinated by the nature versus nurture debate. My relationship with my papa proves that nurture has a big impact on how someone grows up. I never looked at my papa as someone I didn’t share DNA with. He was, and still is, as much of a part of me as anyone who shares my DNA.
I think it’s important to remember these connections when we talk about our personal family history. As genealogist, we become so focused on DNA matches and our direct lines, that we forget the importance of those who are related to us in a different way. Sure, these connections may not help us break brick walls or get us into a lineage society, but to say they don’t make us who we are would be a mistake.