My father passed away in 1992. At a family Thanksgiving gathering last month I saw him at the dinner table.
We were enjoying a splendid meal at the home of my youngest brother, Paul, and his wife, Carol. My brother, who was sitting about four persons to my left, was talking and when I looked at his face I saw my father.
I told him how much he looked like our dad. My son concurred.
All four of his sons resemble Dad in some way but not as distinctly as my baby brother did on Thanksgiving Day. It was eerie.
As a youngster I didn’t resemble anyone in my family. The rest of the family was slender; I wasn’t.
While shaving one morning I saw my father staring back at me from the bathroom mirror. In my mid-30s at the time, this was the first time I noticed a significant resemblance to my father.
Dad passed away a decade later. After Christmas that year my mother told me that while shopping she had run into one of the nurses from the care center where Dad had resided for nearly three years. The woman explained that a short time before Christmas she was shopping in Des Moines when she saw my father walking down the mall.
Dad was confined to a wheelchair when she cared for him so she realized quickly it really wasn’t my father she saw. And, she remembered, Dad had passed on a few months earlier. Then, she told my mother, she realized that the guy she saw in the mall was actually his oldest son. That’s me. And, yes, I had been in that mall a short time before Christmas.
This thing called genetics fascinates me. My brothers and I have all resembled Dad at one time or another as did one of my sisters. Now my sisters more closely resemble our mother.
One of my nephews resembles his father in appearance and even more so in his speech and actions. His father, my brother-in-law, passed away 12 years ago. Conversing with my nephew brings back warm memories of his father who was also my cousin (It’s a small town thing).
In my own family, my son, Dirk, physically resembles me and carries many of the so-called Huisman traits – blunt and candid speech, crowd loathing, impatient. Personality wise, my son is a clone of his Uncle Paul.
Meanwhile, my daughter is the spittin’ image of her mother, right down to her mother’s brown eyes which first caught my attention in 1968. While Dena also inherited some of her mother’s personality traits, she and I have a lot in common including, but not limited to, strong political views and a twisted sense of humor.
My maternal grandmother had a distinctive cackle when she laughed. Dena was only three when Oma died and never really knew her. When Dena laughs heartily today, I hear my grandmother’s delightful cackle ̶ a wonderful genetic inheritance.
To paraphrase on old adage, “Resemblance is in the eyes of the beholder.”
I had always assumed that I most strongly resembled my father’s side of the family. I am tall, blunt, loud and often outspoken. Fortunately, not all of my paternal relatives are like that but a number of us are.
After my maternal grandmother’s funeral in 1980 a man from her town approached me and said, “You have to be a Gelder! You like just like the rest of the Gelders.”
I had never been told that before and I had never considered that to be the case. However, he saw something in me that reminded him of my mother’s family.
Ironically, some years later we were in my mother’s hometown enjoying a meal at a local restaurant. One of the waitresses, a hometown gal, mistook me for my Gelder cousin, Roger, who grew up in that town. Apparently she also saw the Gelder connection.
Though I still think I more closely resemble my father’s side, I did inherit a number of traits from my mother’s side including a lousy lower back, thin skin (physically,) GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disorder) and a zany sense of humor.
All of this genetics talk reminds me of something novelist Matt Dunn wrote. “Skinny jeans,” he penned, “were only good if you had skinny genes.”