Just thinking about family

Grandfather Sigmund circa 1913. We have the eyes and brows!

I was recently at a family function. It was a celebration for an in-law. As I looked around I could tell (mostly) which side of the family people belonged to.

The beloved husband was looking at the pictures posted at the party and saw one of my niece when she was young. She reminded him of the young pictures of my mother. I had never noticed the resemblance before but the camera captured it.

Since finding that old photo of my grandparents (click here for family photo), I have noticed that a lot of us have my grandfather’s eyes and arched eyebrows. It seems to be a dominant feature.

I was doing ancestry research this week (yes my butt almost fused with my computer chair yet again) and I found an old on-line photo of the mother of the celebrating in-law. I was scanning through photos that others had put posted but stopped immediately at that one. He is dead ringer for his mother down to the teeth.

This stuff is all superficial. Does it matter whose nose we have? Probably not unless it’s a big proboscis that requires a surgical trim!

What you can’t see when you look around are the character traits that we inherit. There is a strong strain of introvert that runs through my family. We rarely never dance on tables with lampshades on our heads. We sit peacefully at functions. It’s not that we don’t have reactions, we do. We are eye rollers. We can kill with an eye roll that is Olympic quality and a head twitch. We often marry extroverts. (Do opposites attract or do they drive each other crazy?)

I always wondered where we got that trait. Not from my mom’s side who were much more outgoing and yappy. We also have thin genes (hallelujah!) and musical talent from my Dad along with mostly brown/hazel eyes.

When I look at the beloved husband’s siblings I can see the physical resemblance but they have some basic behaviors that are similar too. None of them are over the top or theatrical. There are some other qualities like conflict aversion and sincere warmth yet each one is very different. There are no carbon copies.

The beloved husband’s children, all middle aged adults at this point, are wildly different. Except for the familial resemblance, you wouldn’t put them together as siblings.

I don’t understand how all this works or fits together but it’s fascinating. This is why I enjoy diving into that ancestry pool. There are always surprises.

60 thoughts on “Just thinking about family

  1. The genetic characteristics are very interesting. My Mom says how I am like my brother in so many ways. He was the oldest and I am.the youngest. My sister and I joke about sharing a brain, but my other sister is very different from us.
    Now as far as my kids go they are like night and day! LOL!

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  2. So true! It is interesting seeing family resemblances in people. When my cousin’s baby was born, we could see both his Dad and members of our family in him – our grandad’s ears, my cousin’s chin. And when you go farther back, you see more of it. Like you say, probably not all that important, except for health traits. But very interesting!

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  3. The only person I looked like in the family was my father – his walk, his hair, glasses … one time after he was gone, I was wearing my glasses and not my contact lenses as I was working in the garden that day and knew I would be hot and sweaty, so I stood in the cellarway while my mom brought me a cold drink and she about freaked, telling me I looked just like him when she met him.

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  4. I sort of look like my Mom and I have her Irish temper, but I have a lot of physical traits of my Mom’s oldest sister. Mom had four sisters and three of them looked very much alike but Aunt Margie didn’t look like she had the same father and who knows about that. I thought for the longest time I was adopted! I don’t think I have a thing in common with my father except heart disease… sigh. I don’t know Kate, this kinda gets me thinking. I am an introvert like my Dad. OhMyGosh, I could sit here and type a bunch… things are popping in my head. I am happy that you are enjoying your dive into the ancestry pool, just be kind to your eyes!

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    • My mom had 3 sisters too. There was a resemblance but not striking. Different heights and different body builds. Her youngest sister was taller and slim. My mom was barely 5′ and more of a stocky build. I never knew or saw a picture of my mom’s dad so I don’t know what he looked like and my pictures of my grandmother are of an old woman with a babuska on her head and long dark pinafore over her dress. It looked like something out of National Geographic. Eyes, ugh! As if dry eye isn’t enough I’m recovering from a sty.

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      • A sty… the worst! I just went to my annual eye exam last week. Dr. Mertz said all looked good. He told me you can do a lot for dry eye but I was already doing the stuff you can do for yourself thanks to your advice. I think the HypoClor spray is super! He said he didn’t think my dry eye was that bad but he said that he thought what was going on with my eyes was more allergy related. He made it clear that Florida with all the wind and pollen is rough on eyes, plus all the AC that we constantly run. Some tear ducts are clogged and he told me what all we could do but he said he would see me in six months and to stick with what I was doing unless I developed another, wait for it… a hordeolum(sty)!

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          • He certainly didn’t mention a cure. He did say that stress can cause them with respect to hormones. Also rosacea, which I have had since my thirties. I think for me it has been a perfect storm. He uses a steroidal eye drop but didn’t think I needed it right now. I wasn’t even going to visit the rosacea link because all they ever want to do is give antibiotics orally and they mess with my gut. He seemed to believe in treating my eyes with things that you use in the eye rather than pushing tetracycline. Sty, stye, hordeolum=PIA or pain in the eye! I haven’t had a sty since you told me to use HypoChlor… knock on wood. Does your doc have a cure for horrid hordeolum?

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            • Not really. Last time I went to him, he wanted to put me on Augmentin (oral antibiotic) which also messes with my gut. Our local walk-in urgent care center will give you an antibiotic eye drop to put in the eye and I like that better. Shortens the time frame and doesn’t affect the whole body. I use HypoChlor faithfully so I’m not sure why I got this. I’m in the process of getting another eye doc. Just haven’t done it yet and won’t need a check-up for a while. I didn’t go to anyone for this. I had an antibiotic ointment to go into the eye. Didn’t like that at all. Next time I’ll bite the bullet and get the drops from the walk-in or make an apt with a new doc.

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  5. It is fascinating to observe both similarities and differences in families. I think my dad’s side of the family, with which I most closely seem to identify, has very strong similarities both physically and in temperament and even talents. I am having fun watching my grandchildren get older and discovering traits and characteristics that remind me of different family members. I am really glad you’re still enjoying your ancestry searches. It can be very rewarding.

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    • It takes a lot of time so I go through periods where I’m glued to my chair for 6 hours and a week that I don’t touch it. I too am enjoying seeing the physical similarities to long gone relatives that I never knew or never knew well. Wish I would have known what behavioral traits they had. That can be an eye opener. I dated a guy a long time ago. When I met his family (who lived in the midwest) I understood him a lot better.

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  6. I have an old old tin-type photo of a relative from 1860, (great great aunt?)she has the same deep set eyes, thin face and build and Black Irish hair as my dad, and also myself, except my hair is blonde from my Dutch mother. It is interesting to see the resemblance a century and a half later!

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  7. It is all very fascinating – both behaviors and similarities in pictures.
    As a kid I looked more like my dad and his side of the family (it used to make my mom so mad for some reason) – but now it’s weird I am similar to my mom at this age. With luck I’ll end up as happy and loopy in old age as an aunt and grandmother instead of grumpy!

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    • It is! I’ve been tracking a few tenacious details that I can’t iron out but then I will stumble over other information by chance, like this picture of an in-law’s long gone mom. Meeting up with a few distant relatives has been helpful. We could fill holes for each other.

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  8. This is interesting! My sister dove deep into our ancestry and got a lot of information over several years of research and through ancestry.com. While researching on ancestry.com she and a family member connected. It seems he is the grandson of our grandfather’s brother. I am not sure what that makes him to us ~ maybe a cousin? Anyway, he came to our family reunion about three years ago so we could meet him and his wife and he in turn could meet all of us. Turns out HIS son looks remarkably like MY youngest son! Genetics are something!

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    • On my dad’s side, only one of his siblings had kids. I haven’t seen them in 50 years and I wonder what I’d see. There were 6 kids, 3 looked like their mom and 3 favored their dad’s side. Some of them are gone now but I wonder.

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    • Unfortunately there is no one to tell the stories these days so I have to dig to get them. I start to feel like I knew them personally especially if I can find a picture that someone else posted and I’ve never seen.

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  9. It IS really interesting. It’s freaky when you find an old photo of an ancestor where you or someone else in the family looks exactly like them. It’s almost ghostly. When my 100 year old aunt (my grandma’s sister), gave me a bunch of her old photos, there was a picture of my grandma as a teenager in there. If it hadn’t been for the black & white picture and styles of the times, I would’ve thought I was looking at me as a teen!

    We’d have some good laughs in person. You’d be the quiet one with the quick wit, and I’d be the expressive one laughing and playing along with your jokes.

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  10. I find siblings to be fascinating. Like you said, they may look alike in certain ways, but when it comes to personalities they often are like night and day. I’m glad you’re finding out some interesting tidbits about your ancestry. Not a bad way to pass the time in the winter.

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  11. It is, of course, very easy to differentiate between my husband’s family and my own, haha. That’s one of the pluses of marrying way outside your gene pool (along with avoiding a ton of genetic diseases).

    Since my parents divorced and remarried and had more children with different partners, we get a pretty good idea of where certain traits–and intelligence!–come from. Dad’s side is Aspergers and a terrible “hostile-when-thwarted” temper. Mom’s side is the low blood pressure and vasovagal response to blood/ injury. Unfortunately, all those traits are dominant!

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  12. It really is fascinating! I have an old photo of my parents at the top of the stairs. It’s the youngest photo I have of my father. Until recently, I never noticed how much my nephew looks like my father. My mother told me my father was 37 years old in the photo and my nephew is now 36 with the same characteristics.

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  13. Blood will tell! I find as people age, they become more and more like their forbears in appearance. Or maybe that’s because they start looking like the people I knew as a child, as they age. Anyways, when I look in the mirror now, I see my grandmother looking back at me. 🙂 And that’s just fine with me!

    Deb

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  14. It is fascinating, Kate. Sometimes I’ll say something and my sister will respond, “You sound exactly like dad when you say that.” I guess mannerisms and character traits grow as a result of proximity unlike our physical characteristics which are passed along genetically…like a flat butt…something my father, his sister and I all have. 😦

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  15. yes, I agree… we did it some years ago… we laughed, cried… and felt shame… but this are our roots and once we are apart of this family tree and those who maybe come after we are gone will read about us and our life..

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    • We should leave more clues than my grandparents did! There weren’t a lot of photos from back then. I have one of my paternal grandmother and none of my maternal grandfather, both died before I was born. I did uncover a couple of skeletons. They came from Austria near the Hungarian border so not all that far from your parents.

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  16. If you put my sister and I side by side, you would not think we are related at all. I seem to have inherited the chubby cheeks and heart shaped face whereas she is quite angular. Height-wise there’s not much in it, but she is probably thinner than me now. I always thought she took more after my Dad, but now I’m not so sure. Our attitudes and mannerisms are also totally different, but then we’ve grown apart. since adulthood and don’t share each other’s lives.
    Now put Bro and me together and we definitely have Mum’s eyes.

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