Family Ties

When I look in the mirror, I see someone who looks nothing like the rest of my family. I’ve never really understood the finer points of genetics, but it seems as though I should resemble at least one of the people who share my family history.

But I don’t. I look like none of them, not even my sisters.

10530856_812135002130930_6001206690455667500_n

Mom was tiny and dark, with a little round face and a sort of natural grace that just can’t be taught. I have her wonky eyelid and a lot of her mannerisms, but no one would ever look at our pictures together and guess that I am her child. And I certainly didn’t inherit her natural grace; I fall upstairs and trip over nonexistent things on a daily basis.

Mom’s elegance and beauty skipped a generation and went directly to my daughter. The Princess looks almost exactly like Mom did at that age. I, of course, look like neither one of them.

mom

I got my father’s sense of humor and broad shoulders, but that’s about it. Well, I inherited his family’s tendency to gain weight easily. Yay, Dad. My middle sister was lucky enough to get his pale, crystal-blue eyes and distinctive chin dimple, although none of us got his height.

IMG_20130616_110812

I’ll admit, I can see just a tiny bit of myself in his sister, my Aunt Marian, and that scares me a little. I loved Aunt Marian and I miss her every day, but she could be a rather intimidating woman when she wanted to be. I still shudder when I remember the way she squared up that already-square jaw, clenched her teeth, and glared when she was angry. Holy moly, I would have confessed to just about anything when she gave me that look!

I hope I didn’t get the genes for that, although it might come in handy in my job as a lunchlady.

I don’t look like my cousin, either. Okay, we both have pictures of ourselves with large bodies of water in the background, so that’s something. I wonder if she manages to get hit by seagull poop every single summer like I do.

I’ll have to ask her about that someday.

My oldest sister says I am wrong, that I really do look like our father’s family, but I just don’t see it. Whenever we go to a family funeral, I see a big group of large people with lots of bony shoulders and sharp noses and round bellies. And no butts. Swear to God, there is not a single man on my father’s side of the family who has a butt.

Unfortunately, the women in Mom’s family all more than make up for that absence. Even the skinny ones have more than their fair share of derriere.

Gee, thanks, Mom.

As a kid, I often wondered if I was adopted. It really bothered me for a while that I just never seemed to fit in with everyone else. Now that I’m older, I’ve noticed just enough similarities to know that I really am related to these people, but not enough similarities to feel quite like I fit in.

And then, a few weeks ago, I found this picture.

These are Dad and Marian’s sisters. I don’t see anything of myself in the two in front, but look at the one in the back.

 

Hot damn,  maybe I wasn’t switched at birth!

I really don’t mind looking like my Aunt Ida. In fact, it makes me pretty happy. I always had a special connection with Ida.

At one point in her life, Ida looked like this.

 

There just may be hope for me. I mean, come on, she was gorgeous.

All silliness aside, what do I see when I look in the mirror? Sure, I see a woman who doesn’t look anything like my parents or siblings. I see a woman in dire need of a dye job and a good moisturizer. I see someone who really needs to get a little bit more sleep and lot less stress.

But I see so much more. I see the sum total of all the best parts of a lot of good people. I see potential — and I don’t mean the potential to look like Aunt Ida’s cover-girl shots. Trust me, that ship has sailed. It’s not happening. I mean the potential for Mom’s intelligence, Dad’s laughter, Ida’s self-confidence. Potential for my cousin’s strength in the face of adversity. For Marian’s tough exterior.

So maybe I don’t look like most of them. That’s okay, because we are family. Like it or not, we share the same genes that make us who we are, and that’s pretty awesome.  It’s not about who looks like whom; it’s about knowing where we came from and recognizing everything that’s good in all of us.

***

This has been part of Finish the Sentence Friday, hosted this week by Kristi of FindingNine.com and April of April Noelle.  This week’s prompt is “When I look in the mirror, I see . . .”

 

 

Advertisements

16 thoughts on “Family Ties

  1. Isn’t wonderful that you found pictures to look at. Can you imagine if you hadn’t. I did say, “Wow” when I saw the resemblence! It’s nice to find a resemblence. I immediate looked for it when my son was born and my mom said she did the same thing with me. And you definitely don’t look like a lunch lady who could scare anyone.

    Like

    • I did the same when my children were born! In fact, we’ve laughed over the fact that when my daughter was born, the doctor and nurses all commented on how much she looked like her father. Now, he’s a handsome man, but I burst into tears anyway. After carrying her for nine months and then going through labor and delivery, I wanted to hear that she looked like ME!

      And no, I don’t scare anybody in the lunchroom. I try, but no one is afraid of me. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! She was a model, actually . . . according to family “legend” she was on her way to New York in 1954 to meet with some big shots and launch her career when she got word that two of her brothers had died in a boating accident. She came home for the funeral and never left again.

      I don’t know if that story was true or not, but my sisters and I grew up with the very certain knowledge that our aunt had once been beautiful enough to be a model. She was a big, statuesque woman, nearly six feet tall, and the most elegant person I have ever known. I like to believe that the stories were true.

      If I have just a little of her in me, I’m happy.

      Like

  2. Genetics are and amazing thing! I don’t look anything like my parents or sibling. My daughter however is the splitting image of my grandmother and has the mannerisms of my mother. Both of them passed away before they could meet my daughter but having her around is like being with them both everyday.

    Like

  3. I do think you look like her too! A lot! You know what’s funny – I was actually adopted and my whole life people have told me I look like my dad and one of my brothers. I sort of believed them until I met my bio mom and I definitely look like one of her sisters, like a LOT. So we both look like an aunt! By the way, I was so excited when my son had my eyes rather than my husband’s. My husband has gorgeous eyes but I wanted my little boy to look like ME in some way! I saw Kenya said the same 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • How wonderful that people say you look like your adopted family! And that you got to meet your bio mom. It gives you sort of a . . . grounded feeling to see something of yourself in someone else, doesn’t it? Connected. Maybe a little less alone on bad days.

      Like

  4. Check her OUT! Ohhhh she’s gorgeous and YES the dead spit of you 🙂 That’s awesome! I’m so glad you found your ‘look’ so clearly displayed in your family’s history. Loved the line about you not having caught your mom’s grace – it’s so evocative.

    Like

    • Thank you. Mom was the kind of person who simply never tripped, never stumbled, never dropped anything. Everything about her was just so fluid and smooth. I have no idea how she did that, but my daughter inherited the gene for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is fantastic. The writing, the insights, the humor. I love your voice A.J.! The image of you checking out everybody’s butts at the family funeral nearly made me choke on my coffee!! That is awesome. You oughta expand on that more for some other submission. Cracked me up! I think you look so much like Aunt Ida! That’s fantastic you have those photos. I’m a huge collector of my ancestral photos and am so grateful to have the images. Interesting enough, though, I’ve never thought to look at that to see which I resemble, probably because I look A LOT like a couple of my siblings, and I have my Dad’s nose. It’s quite clear I wasn’t switched at birth.

    Like

    • That is a bit strange that we check out family butts at funerals, isn’t it? I never thought about how odd that is. 🙂

      My sister is heavily into the ancestral photos and family tree, and I am constantly amazed by the things she learns about our family. Her daughter just had her DNA analyzed and we are now having to re-think a lot of old stories that were obviously untrue.

      Like

  6. ” It’s not about who looks like whom; it’s about knowing where we came from and recognizing everything that’s good in all of us.” I so agree with that! I can see so much of the goode-ness of your family coming through in your writing. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  7. I don’t think I look like my parents at all, but I look like my one full sister. My body type is my dad’s sister, which of course is the heavy gene. Hot damn, your Aunt Ida was a hottie! I’d love to look like her. I don’t have a lot of family photos, although I wish I did.

    Like

Got an opinion? Please share it here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s