Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Genealogy , Looking "Alike", and a Game

Sherry over at Please, Contain Your Excitement wrote a wonderful post about her relationship with one of her brothers. I cried - happy tears. Please go check it out. In her post, Sherry mentioned that some people didn't think she and her brother looked alike and others thought they did. I'll let you decide. :)

This comment about looking alike got me to thinking about one of the crazy "games" I have played since I was just a little girl. I like to look at people and pictures of people and look for family resemblances. It is such a habit that I just automatically do it now. A side benefit or curse is that I remember faces, but not always remember names or where I've seen the person.

Here is an explanation as to why I do this. There were several "falling outs" in my family - on my mom and dad's side. (All these happened before I was born. Thank God some have been mended.) These rifts caused the families to split and not speak to or acknowledge each other. (My family was notorious for this!) Both of my grandmothers told me about (at least some of) these splits (for several reasons), but they were especially worried about the newest one. What if I met and fell in love with a first cousin?* (At least they didn't have to worry about it being a sibling!)

So, starting with the wild imagination and "self-centeredness" of a little girl, I have spent my whole life looking at people and wondering if they are related to me. I'm still doing it, but in a little more grown up way. Now I look and wonder if we are related (slight difference in the thinking process - lol).

But since I started doing genealogy, it isn't all about me or just my family (tho it generally is). I like to look at other people's old photos and look for family resemblances to help them piece the puzzles together. Sometimes I can help, sometimes not. (I'm not psychic. lol) Then, there is the area where I live. The denizens were, until the last 30 years or so, predominately German Catholic. They tended to be very leery of newcomers. (We're newcomers.) Result? Lots of inter-marriages and lots of people who look alike (and unfortunately a high birth rate of people with handicaps).

What I have learned by doing this is that there is more to this than looking at just facial features. There are certain facial expressions, the hair, body build/type , types of walks, and stance. If you are lucky and get to talk to people, there is the sound of the voice itself, certain inflections, the phrases that certain families use. (This all helps, but it isn't proof that people are related.)

I have learned that there is no pattern to what people look like. Siblings can and do look and act completely different. Distant cousins can and often look almost identical. A son might not look anything like his father, but his son will look exactly like his grandfather. Sometimes, children are "spitting images" of one parent or a mixture of both. Some people look the same their whole life. Others change drastically. One child will be so completely different from the rest that it makes everyone wonder who that child "really belongs to". Really, I know/knew this, but I have to consciously remember it.

Now for the * !

When I was a senior in high school, I spent a weekend visiting my best grade school friend, and she introduced me two of her friends who just happened to be boys. (At the time, I didn't know their last names or realize that they were younger than us! ) We went out and around town as teens do. I specifically remember that night because it was really cold out and we put the top down on my friend's mom and dad's car and couldn't get it back up. Oops. For some reason, I had an immediate "aversion" to one of the boys. He was nice enough, but I just didn't really want to be partnered with him. No, I never saw them again after that night, either.

In about 2003 or 2004, I was doing some family research and found where one of my male cousins was going to attend his 30 year high school reunion. There was a graduation picture of him. HOLY CARP. I had partied with my first cousin (whom, of course, I didn't know was my cousin)! Thank goodness he was partnered with my girlfriend. Nothing really terrible happened, but still...

Obviously, I didn't see any family resemblance. So much for my game.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We have a very strange family. My sister & I are both dark hair/green eyed. My brother is red hair/blue eyes. Yes, same father & mother, it happens.

Redd has red hair/blue eyes. His sisters have dark hair/green eyes. Same mom & dad. Weird.

Both my boys have red hair/blue/green eyes. Rh's eyes change with the light.

I don't notice the facial features so much as the attitude. E is the oldest and my niece A is the oldest. She and E could be brothers & sisters. Not because they look alike (they don't, she's dark, he's light), but because of their personality! OMG, it's ridiculous how much alike they are.

I tell Rh all the time that he should be my sister's son because he is EXACTLY like she was when she was a kid. Maybe because they are both second kids to a dominate older child?? Who knows. It cracks me up when one of my kids will make a facial expression that my brother or sister used to make when we were kids. I guess they pick it up from me or them when they see them. who knows.

Rh looks more like my brother. Where as E has strawberry blond hair, Rh's hair is red. He favors my brother when my brother was young. I pray that he does not have the personality of my brother when he grows up!