Sunday, July 24, 2011
The person in my family I look most like is…
No one. Honestly.
Okay, so there have been two moments in my life when I thought I glimpsed myself in another member of my family. But I’m not sure anymore.
When my Grandpa died in 1993, we drove to lower Michigan, and at some point we found ourselves in Grandma’s apartment with all the family. It was the first time I remember meeting my Aunt Marleine. I looked at her face, and I had two immediate thoughts. First was, “Oh! She’s the Aunt who made my baby blanket!” Second was, “Wow! Finally someone in the family that I sort of look like!” Of course, my Aunt Mar is a beautiful woman, and I don’t look that much like her, but I was very pleased to have a semblance of someone so good-looking!
The second time I thought I looked like someone, I actually thought I looked like everyone. I know you’re rolling your eyes at me—that’s okay! It was maybe a year ago; maybe two. I was looking in the mirror. I had just put my hair back in barrettes, which I hadn’t done in years, but I wanted to try it again because my sister was wearing her hair in barrettes again and it looked great! So I put them in my hair, and smiled at my reflection, and thought, “Wow. When you smile, you have a similar shape around your eyes as Maggie!” And then I thought, “Woah, but you really look like Jer.” And then, “Wowsers, you can really see Mom in me.” And then, “Oh man, I look just like Dad.”
Honestly, though, I never thought I looked like anyone in our family very much. It’s hard when you have a family of look-alikes. Kristin-Mikayla-Hannah…who can tell the difference? Aunt Kristi-Maggie-Amber? Dad-Steve-Joel-Jesse? And later in his years, Dad-Jer? Mom-Donna-Grandma Schmitzer? Mostly, it has just never occurred to me that I might look like someone.
More important (I think) than our physical appearances, I think I “look like” my family in other ways. I will always look like Mom, because I will always wear her hand-knit socks. I will always look like Kristin when I say, “Sssank you for calling zee Hampton inn and sveets! Theeees eees Ferrrrrrrnahndo!” I will always look like Maggie when I make a homemade Christmas gift. I will always look like Jeremiah when I quote Gibbs’ Rules. I will always look like Steven when I decorate a cake with the tips he gave me. I will always look like Jesse when I get a fish hook stuck in my sleeve. And I will always look like Joel when I listen to Bride (I know! Who knew I listened to Bride in secret? Don’t tell anyone.).
We are made up of characters. People shape us, change us, encourage us to become more than we think we are. We are, in truth, like an orchestra of instruments—each entirely unique in its sound and appearance and part, each having a role that no other instrument can fill. We play individual pieces in our lives, following the music as best we can, learning to understand the notes on the staff, finding our fingering, steadying our bow hand. But it’s when we play together that each instruments’ strength is brought to light. Each instrument finds what it is capable of. And each instrument sounds the fullest when complemented by the harmonies and challenges of the orchestra. Whether similar or different from each other, that’s what we are like. That’s what family does.
Even if we don’t look alike.
All my love,