My Cousin, My Friend

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Sometimes, the end of a journey is nothing like what you imagined when you first began it. Pete Gavin has this Perspective.

Before the holidays my wife and I decided to give each other a DNA test so we could learn more about each other’s backgrounds. We spit into a tube, sealed it, sent it in and waited for the results.

A few weeks ago we received our results. Mine pretty much confirmed what I already knew about myself: mostly European Jewish, Swedish and Irish. That said, there were some exciting surprises; turns out I also have Middle Eastern, Western and Southern European and North African heritage. Cool.

I spent a little time on the website, studying the timeline of migrations from my regions to the United States. That was pretty disappointing, though, because it was mostly generic information rather than specifics. So I closed the link, thinking the whole thing was mostly a waste of money.

A few weeks later I decided to take another look to see if I had missed anything. I discovered a link titled ‘View All DNA Matches’ and saw a list of 40 to 50 people to whom I was probably related. There was one second cousin listed, a few more third cousins, and even more fourth cousins. I recognized a name under ‘Third Cousins’, someone my father had found through his research. “Hmm,” I thought, “there may be something to this.”


Then I scrolled down through the names of my likely fourth cousins. Near the bottom of the list was the name of one of my oldest and dearest friends. Right away, I knew it was him because he has a very unusual name. “Oh my God!” I thought. “Gustavo. He’s my fourth cousin!”

I immediately called Gus, and within a few minutes we figured out the most likely family connection. We were both stunned. All these years, and we never knew we were related. What are the odds?

I guess I did get my money’s worth after all. I can’t wait till the next time I see my old friend. My cousin.

With a Perspective, I’m Pete Gavin.

Pete Gavin is a retired teacher of middle school English.