September 2013

I’ll say this up front. I’ve been a Star Trek geek (Trekker, Trekkie…whatever you want to call us) since I was eight years old. I’ve seen all the episodes of each of the iterations (Original Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise) many times and love them all. I’ve enjoyed each of the movies as well, though admittedly, not as much as the TV shows in most cases. (And I still really wish they’d done DS9 and Voyager movies. I would have really enjoyed those.)

I’m very disappointed, however, in the new ST movies. In my opinion, they are missing THE fundamental element that made all the other iterations so good.

Sure, they are adventurous and exciting, but there are many shows/movies that fit that description. What the makers of these movies don’t seem to realize (or don’t care about) is that ST isn’t about adventure. Gene Roddenberry had a vision of an optimistic future where people are truly equal, and each of the shows under his purview was an example of the universe he envisioned. First, almost all the episodes stood alone, on their own merits. The only time we saw this fail were the Borg, Cardasian, or the Xindi episodes, shows that focused only on adventure and fighting. Those episodes became boring and trite and, in my opinion, the reason Star Trek: Enterprise ultimately failed is because it almost exclusively focused on the Xindi after the second season. Second, each episode taught a lesson, be it moral or ethical, and those lessons weren’t only for kids; adults benefited from them as well. “Let That be Your Last Battlefield” (Original Star Trek, Season 3, Episode 15). This episode revolved around two enemies, seemingly of the same race, whose faces were half black and half white. I remember the first time I saw that episode and the shock that came at the end when we finally understood why they hated each other so much. It was ridiculous to those of us on the outside looking in, and I know that many ST lovers who also happened to be bigots thought it equally ridiculous until they realized it was an allegory meant to shed light on their own bigotry. For some, I’m sure it was a big “Aha!” moment and maybe even convinced them to throw off their bigoted attitudes. (I knew of at least one person for whom this was true.)

Then there was “The Outcast,” (TNG, Season 5, Episode 17) a TNG episode where Will Riker falls in love with a person from a non-gender race of people. The person he falls for identifies as a woman but has to keep it a secret, because their race frowned on those with gender identities and saw to it that that type of thinking was “corrected.” Beautifully written and performed, this episode clearly pointed towards prejudice towards gays and transgender people in our own society.

“Rememb” (Voyager, Season 3, Episode 6) saw B’Elanna Torres experiencing dreams in which she is a young Enaran woman having a love affair with a young man known as a “regressive.” A group that spoke against technology, the regressives were deported and executed in a program of mass genocide, much like Earth’s own Jewish Holocaust.

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. My disappointment in the new ST franchise is really two-fold. I’ll openly admit I’m not happy about the alternate timeline created in the 2009 movie by the destruction of Romulus and the Vulcan home world. This, in effect, nullifies every ST episode I’ve ever seen, and I don’t appreciate that. (Yes, I realize they “exist” in another timeline, but that doesn’t make a difference, since we won’t ever SEE that timeline again.) But my real disappointment comes from the fact that the movies are all about adventure and do not support Gene Roddenberry’s vision. I don’t think Gene would have liked them either.

I welcome others’ comments on this subject! It would be interesting to see what other ST fans think.

One of the hardest things about this discovery has been the stress of worrying about how my family would take the news. How do you tell the people you have loved your entire life that you aren’t even related to them, or at best, you are only half related to them?

Believe me when I tell you that I spent weeks worrying about this day and night. I thought about it every waking moment. I dreamed about it every night. Needless to say, there was a great deal of fear associated with this revelation. What if they rejected me? What if they said hurtful things? What if they became incredulous when I told them I want David, Aaron, Bruce and even the others who haven’t reached out to be part of my life? The entire situation has been fraught with risk. By telling them, I would be putting my entire future on the line.

Platitudes aside, I knew in my heart that none of these things would happen. I’ve known and loved these people for 54 years. I know who they are on the inside, and I know how they feel about me.

Telling my sister, the closest person to me in the world next to my son, was easy. In fact, she had it figured out before I did. I know she was hurt and disillusioned, but she has backed me completely. She has listened to me excitedly talk endlessly about my new brother, nephew and cousin and never became stoic or burst into tears as I feared. In fact, when David excitedly welcomed me to his family on Facebook, she was the first person to comment, telling him that I’m a wonderful sister and she’s happy to share me with him. She’ll never know how much I appreciated that and what a relief it was to me.

Telling my uncle and cousins was the hardest part. They, who mean so much to me, were about to learn that I’m not related to them by blood. When I told them, it was through email and Facebook messages–not my preferred method, but it had to be done quickly before someone else let it slip. To a one, they were all wonderful. My uncle had been surprised (which was a surprise in itself…we had thought maybe he knew all along) but said he loved his brother but also loved his sister (Mom). I wept at his forgiveness of her. Each of my cousins, in turn, told me they love me and I’ll always be their cousin. I spent most of that day crying with relief.

Finally, I was ready to tell my brother. I had put this off till last because he was the wild card. He had been very close to Mom, and I wasn’t sure how he’d take it. After frettng about it for several days, i finally mustered the courage and called him. No answer! I texted; still nothing. He called me back the next day and said, “So, what is this big news?” So there it was; time to just spill it. He was shocked and doubtful until I convinced him we’d double checked the results against David’s DNA, but finally he accepted it and told me I’m his sister no matter what. The funniest quote from the whole thing came about 30 minutes into the call when he said, “Wait! Does this mean Mother slept with Dr. X?” Really? That’s the question you asked? Hehehe…yeah, bro…that’s what it means!

So now everyone knows. It’s a huge relief that the reveal is all over and couldn’t have gone better. Now, we’re on to the next phase. It can’t come fast enough for me.

The DNA results that is! We never expected to get them back this fast. It had taken about 10 weeks to get my results and those of my sister and brother returned to us, so we were expecting it to be at least mid-October before we heard anything. So, when David messaged me to call him and sent his phone number, it never occurred to me that it was because he knew something I didn’t. I should have–he hadn’t shared that sort of private information with me before–but I just thought it was because we’d been getting a little closer and he was ready for that step.

But then he told me…we’re a match! 23andme had us as grandfather and granddaughter, but since it had had my other brother and me as uncle and niece, I’d been through this before and explained that it couldn’t tell how we were related when we only shared one parent, only that we were very closely related.

We spent the first 10 minutes of the phone call just giggling and saying breathless “Wow”s again and again, and then we settled in for some real conversation. We chatted for an hour, finding similarities in our personalities, learning about each other and simply sharing ourselves. He is a wonderful person…simply wonderful. Giving, kind, loving. I regret I haven’t known him all my life. I think he could have taught me a lot. Perhaps he still can!

I don’t know if my other siblings from that side of the family will ever reach out. I know it’s so difficult for them for a variety of reasons, and I can’t fault them their feelings. I’ve felt that anger and betrayal from a couple of different perspectives (both as the betrayed wife and the child bearing the betrayal of the parent who was cheated on), so I can guess a little something about what they must be feeling. I’ll be here if they ever reach out. (Some of their children already have.) But I won’t ever push them. That’s just not me. I hope I was thrust into their lives for a reason, though. I hope my existence serves some purpose for them…perhaps to teach an important lesson they desperately need to learn, perhaps to provide donor tissue when no one else possesses the right match, perhaps to be a friend when they need one.

Now, I just need to find a way to muster the courage to tell my extended family…my wonderful uncle and cousins I adore. I don’t want to hurt them, but I think they deserve to know, and I deserve not to have to keep this from them. I’m sad that we’re not related by blood, but I know they are my family never-the-less. I’m happy that I have a new family with members who are so willing to embrace me. I’m happy that I feel an explainable bond and kinship with them…a familiarity that I’ve always yearned to feel but couldn’t. I feel complete for the first time in my life, and I think that’s a good thing.