Antique Childhood, Faith, Sometimes Sweet

Living Beyond

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Since my mother’s sister died in January, my cousins have been dealing with the exhausting task of going through their mother’s belongings. There is a lot of agonizing and sorting and deciding that must be done when trying to dismantle the accumulation of a lifetime.

In a package of things they returned to my mother, there was a picture of me when I was about the same age that Sean is now. When my mother came out to visit recently, she gave the picture to me. I hadn’t seen the picture before and when she handed it to me I was struck by how much of Sean I saw in my own face. Not so much in features, although there is certainly some of that, but something beyond that. Something that can’t be described in words or explained by genetics. Something impish behind the eyes, an almost imperceptible curl of the lip or lift of the brow — something so intimate that it can only be discerned from having looked into a mirror for 47 years.

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As I held the picture in my hand, peering 44 years back into time, it made my knees weak to see the likeness of my son in my own three-year-old face. I could only think about how in the weaving of the great tapestry of life, God himself picks and chooses tiny filament threads to carry over from parent to child, from one generation to the next, binding us all together through the ages with the double helix of DNA or some other invisible something that is not yet known to man.

I thought about how it is through Sean and the miracle that is his life that I might possibly live beyond my own allotted days on this earth and into a future I will not know and can’t anticipate or comprehend, a time that will be attended to by faces that I will never see, whose names I will never know. I will return to the dust from whence I came. No matter how remarkably I live out my life, sooner rather than later, time will erase every trace and memory that I was here….

Except maybe… at some appointed time in a distant future, God will craft another funny face with something impish behind the eyes and an imperceptible curl of the lip or lift of the brow. And then, even though I might have been forgotten, I will not be gone.

27 thoughts on “Living Beyond

  1. There is certainly a strong resemblance there. People tell me that our oldest looks like me, and the other seven like their daddy. That makes me a human incubator, I guess. It really is quite fascinating to wonder what aspects of our looks, personalities, etc. will live on in generations to come.

  2. Beautifully worded.

    As I was holding my grandson, standing in front of my father who was in the last stages of dementia and hadn’t known me that morning, his eyes were on the child and they suddenly brightened with recognition…he looked at my mother and said, “look at the boy, he shares our blood”.

    Thanks for sharing this with us.

  3. I hear you. I am always a little stunned when I see aspects of myself in my children. Despite the fact that they grew inside me, the likenesses never cease to amaze me.

  4. What I think is amazing is not so much the physical likeness, but the — and here’s where I don’t have a word — attitude? some sort of essence of being or something I can’t describe. How does that happen?

  5. Wow – those photos really show a resemblance!

    Every once in a while I will catch a glimpse at a certain angle, and I am shocked at how much of myself I see in Harry. People would joke with us that he was going to be a brown-eyed redhead, but we never thought we would get that lucky. I think I expected him to be the image of my husband.

    And isn’t that one of the small, just-short-of-vain comforts of having children? That something of yourself will remain, and there will be one small slice of immortality?

  6. this is how our mothers seemed to “read our minds” my sons face is an open book to me because I’ve lived with those expressions far longer than he’s been alive. I can look at a photo of him and almost “remember” what he was thinking.

    it is amazing how God builds these little people isn’t it?
    Mrs N

  7. That was so beautiful.

    I have a picture of my great aunt sitting on a porch around the turn of the century. I have another one of her, around the same time, with my great grandmother. Each picture looks EXACTLY like I did at that age (13) in 1981. Gave me chills to realize that.

  8. “God himself picks and chooses tiny filament threads to carry over from parent to child, from one generation to the next, binding us all together through the ages with the double helix of DNA or some other invisible something that is not yet known to man.”

    I loved this post…and sometimes it’s hard to understand why God chose to give Jack Down Syndrome, but I know that indeed God’s hand was all over that. He doesn’t make mistakes and we are all perfectly crafted according to Him.

    I love the pictures too. WOW!

    (I also nominated you for the award…I dare say you’ll be nominated A LOT!)

    =0)

  9. “God himself picks and chooses tiny filament threads to carry over from parent to child, from one generation to the next, binding us all together through the ages with the double helix of DNA or some other invisible something that is not yet known to man.”

    I loved this post…and sometimes it’s hard to understand why God chose to give Jack Down Syndrome, but I know that indeed God’s hand was all over that. He doesn’t make mistakes and we are all perfectly crafted according to Him.

    I love the pictures too. WOW!

    (I also nominated you for the award…I dare say you’ll be nominated A LOT!)

    =0)

  10. When my grandmother was still alive you could get the three generations together and there was no question that we belonged. Now every once in a while I meet some one who says, “Your Judy’s daughter aren’t you?” Of course that is a honor- because i think Mom is beautiful.

  11. Sharon, What I find just as weird is that I have two older brothers and none of us three kids look anything alike and none of us look remarkably like either of our parents. I guess God drops a stitch once in a while in that great tapestry of life!

  12. Your ears were burning. . .my dear friend and I (both readers of yours) were discussing you tonight. She said, “That Antique Mommy is one you can count on for a laugh. And if she’s not making you laugh, she’s making you cry.”

    You did the latter tonight, and you summed up beautifully what I feel so often about the invisible thread that binds together generations.

  13. Honestly, I read “The Girl In The Sandbox” first, and when I clicked over to it, I saw the picture of you and Sean and thought to myself … Those two look so much alike! How adorable.

    And here you are posting about it!

  14. I agree with “something in the eyes”. When my kids first went to school I was only working part time as a nurse so I spent the other days helping their teachers at school. I couldn’t believe how you could pick out a child’s parents just by something in their eyes. I couldn’t really figure out exactly what it was. I just knew who belonged to who by looking at their eyes.

  15. I told you he looked like you!

    But then, I have trouble seeing the resemblance between my children and me. Funny how others can see clearly what we cannot.

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