A Family Tree With Way Too Many Tangled Branches!

Life is all about relationships—some of which can get awfully complicated! Here’s a little piece I wrote back in 1992 that was printed in CIty Pages and the San Francisco Chronicle.


Bill Wyman and Mandy Smith

If Rolling Stone Bill Wyman, 56, and ex-wife Mandy Smith, 22, decide to reconcile, genealogists could celebrate. Here’s why: Wyman’s 30-year-old son, Stephen, just announced his engagement to Patsy Smith, 46, who is none other than Mandy’s mother!

If both romantic partnerships succeed, Bill Wyman would become his son’s son-in-law, because he would be married to his son’s stepdaughter. Mandy Smith would become Stephen Wyman’s mother because she would be his father’s wife. By virtue of his marriage to Mandy’s mother, then Stephen Wyman would be both Mandy’s son and father. Likewise, Patsy Smith would be Mandy’s daughter as well as her mother.

Of course, things get real interesting if both couples decide to have children.

If Patsy Smith has a son, the child would be Bill Wyman’s brother-in-law and Stephen Wyman’s uncle because he would be the brother of this stepmother, Mandy Smith. If Mandy has a son, the child would be Stephen Wyman’s brother as well as his grandchild because the baby would be the son of his daughter.

It then follows that Patsy Smith would be her husband’s grandmother because she was his mother’s mother. Stephen Wyman would be both his wife’s husband and grandchild. And since the husband of a person’s grandmother is his grandfather, Stephen Wyman would be his own grandfather!



Mark Twain

If this story sounds familiar, it’s because I based it on this old chestnut from Mark Twain. It was one of my favorites; I just never thought it would come close to happening in real life!

A Philadelphian committed suicide and left the following note:

I married a widow with a grown daughter. My father fell in love with my step-daughter and married her—thus becoming my son-in-law, and my step-daughter became my mother because she was my father’s wife.

My wife gave birth to a son who was, of course, my father’s brother-in-law, and also my uncle for he was the brother of my step-mother.

My father’s wife became the mother of a son, who was, of course, my brother, and also my grandchild for he was the son of my daughter.

Accordingly, my wife was my grandmother because she was my mother’s mother. I was my wife’s husband and grandchild at the same time—and, as the husband of a person’s grandmother is his grandfather—I am my own grandfather!

As a fun bonus, here’s a song based on Twain’s essay called I’m My Own Grandpaw, written by Dwight Latham and Moe Jaffe for a group called The Jesters back in 1947. Check out Paul Stoneburner’s site for the history and lyrics, complete with geneological diagrams!


Phil is the author of Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, a comprehensive guide to living a spiritual life. Who will benefit from reading it?

Anyone who is on a spiritual path, or wants to start one
Anyone who loves life, or wants to learn how to
Anyone who is happy, or wants to be happier

To order your copy of Through God’s Eyes, go to GodsEyesOrder.com OR order from Amazon at GodsEyesAmazon.com OR for an inscribed copy, click here to e-mail Phil for information.

Click here for more information about Through God’s Eyes.
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Through God’s Eyes won first place in the “Spirituality and Inspirational” category at the San Diego Book Awards on June 22, 2013.

Here is a two-minute video introduction to Through God’s Eyes.

Want to learn more about Through God’s Eyes? Here is a free 40-page PDF sampler from the book that includes:

• an overview of the book
• the complete table of contents
• the Foreword by Caroline Myss
• my Introduction
• chapter excerpts
• a sample end-of-chapter story
• endorsements from authors and thought leaders

Just click on the link below to download your free PDF sampler!


Phil’s eBook, The Logic of Living a Spiritual Life: Supporting a Life of Faith Through Logic and Reason, is now available for 99 cents on Amazon.

Order it at GodIsLogical.com.

In this eBook, you’ll find answers to questions like:
• What is the cornerstone of a spiritual life, and why?
• What is the secret to liberating yourself from other people’s judgments and expectations?
• Why is there an exception to “Everything happens for a reason”?

Those who worship logic instead of God are only half right. Not only is it logical to believe in God and to live a faith-based life, the existence of a loving, benevolent God that governs all creation is perhaps the only systematic worldview that explains every aspect of life.

Schedule a Mastery Mentoring phone session with Phil to learn how to apply principles of spiritual living more effortlessly and effectively. Priced affordably! Click here to e-mail Phil for details.

SiSe_fullcover_final.inddPhil is also the author of Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, a collection of 45 inspiring, life-changing stories from prominent people he interviewed, including Joan Borysenko, Deepak Chopra, geneticist Dr. Francis Collins, acclaimed sportswriter Frank Deford, Dr. Larry Dossey, Wayne Dyer, Dan Millman, Caroline Myss, Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, Dr. Bernie Siegel, James Van Praagh, singer Billy Vera, Doreen Virtue, Neale Donald Walsch, and bassist Victor Wooten.

Here is a three-minute video that introduces you to Phil and his book. Click here to order Sixty Seconds. Click here to ask Phil to add you to his e-mail list for updates on his blog and books.

Reading this book is like spending a few minutes face to face with each of the contributors and listening to their personal stories. Click here to read unsolicited testimonials from readers. Learn more by visiting the official Sixty Seconds website.

Sixty Seconds was one of three finalists in the General Interest/How-To category at the 12th annual Visionary Awards presented by COVR (Coalition of Visionary Resources) in Denver on June 27, 2009.

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2 Responses to “A Family Tree With Way Too Many Tangled Branches!”

  1. Teraisa@gmail.com Says:

    Great title and wonderful education. All in all, an entertaining piece. Thank you. ~Teraisa

  2. Phil Bolsta Says:

    You’re very welcome, Teraisa!

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