Everybody has a past dating
Alright, I’m nervous about this, but I’m gonna take a crack at going back even further— Okay that got completely out of hand. Most of them were your age in the second half of the 1600s, just as the Enlightenment was getting going in Europe.You can see why it’s not really that impressive when someone tells you they are descended from famous royalty who lived a few hundred years ago.I don’t know you, but I can almost guarantee that you don’t ask your grandparents (or older parents) enough questions about their lives and the lives of their parents.We’re all incredibly self-absorbed, and in being so, we forget to care about the know quite well—can only be accessed by asking questions.During my visit, Nana referred to herself as “the last of the Mohicans,” meaning basically everyone she spent her life with is dead—her husband, siblings, cousins, and friends are all gone. But it only took a couple minutes for her to become absorbed in storytelling, and I spent the next three hours I learned more than I had ever known about her childhood.
The degree of cousin (first, second, etc.) is just a way of referring to how far you have to go back before you get to a common ancestor.
Look how many people you’re descended from only about 300 years back!
Within that top section, there’s probably some royalty, in addition to some peasants, scholars, warriors, painters, prostitutes, murderers, lunatics, and any other kind of person who existed back then.
What happens if I just keep extending my family tree up and up and up?
What exactly is a fourth cousin and how many of them do I have and where are they all right now?
I have one living grandparent—my father’s mother, who’s 89. I visited Nana recently and went through the usual activities—talking about myself in a loud voice, fixing her “broken machine” by unminimizing the internet browser window, being told to slow down Timothy and get in the left lane, even though the turn is still a half mile ahead.