When I was a kid, Mom use to tease that I wasn't born, I was her clone. Okay, so I have Dad's nose and his sinus problems, but otherwise you could easily tell who my Mom was if we were in the same room.
There are actually photos of us at the same age where we could've passed as twins; the only exception was her hair was dark and mine was brown. Seems like I got more than half of my genetic makeup from her paternal side of the family. As a teenager, my great aunt once handed me a school album and asked me to see if anyone looked familiar. Halfway down the page, I found my face. But I seemed to be wearing a Buster Brown haircut, which I didn't recall ever having. Then I realized that everyone on the page had a 1924 era hairstyle. Turned out that face belonged to my Great Aunt Ruth, sister of my paternal grandfather, Hubert. I'd never met her and sadly by the time I found the photo, she had already passed away. But it was like looking in a mirror at my ten year old self.
It wasn't the only time "that side of the family" would come into play. All families have their odd historical (maybe hysterical) moments, which meant that I didn't meet some of my Granddaddy Hubert's siblings until I was in my twenties. One of those great aunts had patiently answered numerous letters inquiring about my family tree. One day, she invited Mom and me to lunch at her home in North Carolina. This aunt hadn't seen my Mom since my mother was a child, but she claimed it felt like only yesterday. Her husband came in and as she and my mother talked, he kept looking at me. I wanted to glance down and see if I'd forgotten to button something or if I'd spilled lunch on my shirt. He smiled at me so kindly, yet I know I looked puzzled. When my aunt caught our silent exchange, she asked him what he was thinking.
Without hesitation he nodded at me and answered, "She's definitely your family. Why, it's like sitting here and looking into Hubert's eyes."
To some folks, that might've seemed strange or the ramblings of an older gentleman. To me it was a bit of a gift. You see, when I was four, Granddaddy Hubert died. My last memory of him was of his last summer, when he had all of his grandchildren out in the yard, catching fireflies. We ran around with jars filled with live flashlights but after we'd had our fun, he made us let them go. I can still hear him explaining that we wouldn't want to be locked up in our rooms for the rest of our lives. So we let the fireflies back out to play.
I learned from that visit with Granddaddy's sister that he liked to bake...to relax. I DO that! I almost yelled. Cooking is okay, but I love to bake. He also loved to work with wood, so I'm kind of wondering if the "craft" gene I have came from that side of the family too.
The one trait which Mom, Granddaddy and I have in common is that we are a sentimental group of people. Almost to the point of being sappy. But it's a trait I actually am proud of, because it indicates that we appreciate when someone takes the time to do something for us. Especially if it was handcrafted for us.
This is a photo of Christmas 1964. The baby doll cradle and the little chair were handmade by Granddaddy Hubert just for me.
His son told me that his Dad insisted on finishing the gifts because he wasn't feeling well and wanted to make sure they were ready for Christmas. A few days later, Grandaddy died of a heart attack.
So why am I talking about my Granddaddy on Mother's Day? Because his wife, my Grandmother, died when my Mom was only three. The short version of a very long story is that Mom ended up being raised by her mother's sister....whose husband was Granddaddy's brother. I'd like to think this Grandmother I didn't know was as generous as her husband....a trait they passed on to the little girl who grew up to be my sentimental Mom.
How sentimental? See that elephant in the cradle? He, who I very creatively named Ellie, was given to me when I was 6 months old. I drug him around everywhere and when he began to fall apart, I was heartbroken. So Mom stitched his face back together with pink yarn. He looked different, but he was still Ellie and I loved him. It was years before I understood that the term "pink elephant" had nothing to do with my pal.
As for my sentimental gene? Well, I still have the baby doll cradle, the little chair....and Ellie.
Happy Mother's Day Mom....and to all of you who helped shape some child's world!