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My mom, Carmen Grayson, taught history for 45 years, high school and college, retiring from Hampton University in the late ’90s. But retired history professors never really retire, so she’s been researching her family’s migrations, though both paper records and now a DNA test. Her father was French Canadian and her mother (my namesake, Gisella D’Appollonia) was born of Italian parents who moved to Canada about a decade before my grandmother was born in 1909.

Last fall, we sent away to get our DNA tested by Helix, the company that works with National Geographic. Mom’s results: 31 percent from Italy and Southern Europe. That made sense because of her Italian mother. But my Helix results didn’t even have an “Italy and Southern European” category. How could I have 50 percent of Mom’s DNA and not have any Italian? We do look alike, and she says there’s little chance we were switched at birth.

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