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Friday, June 8, 2012

Family Genes

It=s funny how we can see our parents in our grandchildren. Looking at a photo of my granddaughter whom I see infrequently because she lives in Oregon, I was struck by how her mouth and chin identically resembles her father=s. He, in turn, received the lower part of his face from my father. It started me thinking about family likenesses and differences. I was destined to be short because both my parents had to stretch to attain a height taller than five feet, three inches.
My mother and her siblings, of whom there were four sisters and three brothers, have battled the Aover-weight@ gene all their lives. That family gene dictates the weight of seven of us siblings. Only one brother has managed to control it. 
I have a childhood memory of when my mother=s sisters joined forces and as a consequence, both lost a considerable amount of excess poundage. I remember eavesdropping on their conversation; a conversation filled with enthusiasm and encouraging words, as they urged my mother to join their efforts. I should have listened more carefully because I, too, carry extra pounds. .
One time as we strolled the Mall, I remember watching a niece=s body movements, how much her walk resembled the way my father walked. It was a low, swinging-from-the-hips kind of walk. My contacts with my father=s siblings were few. Of those I have met in my father=s family of three brothers and three sisters, all shared the same small physical frame and high-energy personality.
My husband=s parents brought together a blending of English and German heritage. The English showed itself in the brother and sister who bore the dark hair and brown eyes of their father. My husband, on the other hand, displays the light coloring and piercing blue eyes from his mother=s side of the family. My husband also brought a gene for tallness into our family mix. Both of our sons reached and topped the six-foot mark. However, the oldest inherited the energized, always-on-the-move behavior pattern of my father, while my younger son moves through life in the slow, deliberate manner of my mother-in-law=s family.
Although certain traits and mannerisms cause me to be reminded of someone from a past generation, I quickly acknowledge I am seeing only a suggestion of that older person in the one I=m observing. I smile at the resemblance, that reminder of another. The mental image is replaced just as quickly by the person I see, the niece, the son, the granddaughter. Each is a unique individual, unlike any who has come before. Each a person has hopes and dreams that are all their own.

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