I went to a funeral a couple of days ago, and as I took my seat, a woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked me, “Are you Collene?” I was taken totally by surprise…for two reasons really. The first was that if this woman knew my mom, Collene Byer Spencer, wouldn’t she know that I was not old enough to be her, and secondly, I was surprised because I have never thought that I looked like my mom, but rather my dad, or more exactly, my dad’s sister, Ruth Spencer Wolfe. My first reaction was to get clarification. I turned to her in surprise and said, “Excuse me?” Again, she asked me if I was Collene. I said, “No, I am her daughter.” I was still trying to clarify, and so I asked if she meant Collene Spencer. She said yes, that was indeed who she meant. It was one of those “ton of bricks” moments, and I certainly felt like I had been hit with each brick in that ton. I did not recognize the woman, and since Mom has been in Heaven for over a year now, I knew that this woman couldn’t have seen Mom in a very long time either…and yet Mom was not forgotten.
We spoke for a few minutes, during which time she told me that she was Joyce Heid, the daughter of a long time friend of the family. We talked about our parents…all of them in Heaven now. She knew that my dad had passed away, but not about my mom’s passing, which she was surprised to hear about. We talked about how the families were doing, and about the closeness of our parents, and then the funeral was about to start so we couldn’t visit any longer. My mind kept drifting back to our conversation, and wondering what she saw in my face that reminded her of my mom. It isn’t the first time that someone has connected me to my family due to the strong family resemblance, but apparently it is something that I will never get used to. It’s just so strange to me, because what they see in me is not something I can see. I have been told that I look like my aunt, my dad, my daughter, my granddaughter, my sister, just recently another sister…and now, my mom. Looking like my daughter, Amy Royce and my granddaughter, Shai Royce weren’t as surprising as some of the others, but I think my mom was the most surprising. I simply don’t see it.
The incident has been on my mind since it first happened…as has my mom. I keep looking back in my memory files to pull up pictures and moments in life when I might have looked my mom, but try as I might, I just don’t see it. Life takes many twists and turns, and yet somehow it seems that it always tends to come back to where it began. Our parents may be in Heaven now, but their echo still remains in the hearts of their loved ones, in pictures, in their house, in moments and holidays, and even in the memories of their friends. While every “ton of bricks” moment is hard at the time, it leaves behind a sweet memory of the loved one that our hears miss so much. Mom, whether I look like you are not, and I must in some way, it was such a sweet moment to have someone from your past keeping you in their memory files too. You are always remembered. I love you and miss you more than words can ever say.
Sometimes you look at a picture and it hits you. This is a face you have seen somewhere else. Sometimes it is hard to figure out just who this person reminds you of, but sometimes it is so clear that it is shocking. As I was looking through some old pictures last night, I came upon this one of my sister Allyn. It was so surprising to me. I had never seen the resemblance before, but my sister’s grandson Ethan looks so much like his grandma that it was uncanny.
I knew that Ethan looks like his daddy, my nephew Ryan, and I knew that Ryan took after our side of the family more than his dad’s side, but seeing that picture of Allyn that is so amazingly like Ethan somehow surprised me. Maybe other people in the family had seen the similarities too, but now one had mentioned it as far as I know. So maybe I wasn’t the only one who had somehow missed it. Whatever the case may be, here I was staring at the the picture of my sister that was so clearly also the face of her grandson.
In researching the family history, I have looked at many pictures old and new, and no matter how often I find a face that belongs to more than one person, I always find my self…stunned. I don’t know why really, but I guess somehow I just don’t think people can often be reproduced so exactly…but I seem to be wrong on that, because clearly, that is exactly what I was looking at…again.
I don’t think I will be able to look at Allyn, Ryan, or Ethan again without looking for similarities. I know that they all look very much alike now, and the only reason it isn’t easy to see, is the differences in their ages. But with the benefit if pictures from different ages on each person, you can clearly see just how much they look alike.
Sometimes it just amazes me that a child can look so much like one parent, and yet at the same time can look so much like the other parent. Not in every way of course, but while they may look a lot like one parent, they can take on a whole different look when they smile or maybe frown.
Such is the case with my grandson, Caalab. Now Caalab is definitely his daddy’s boy. He looks and acts so much like Travis that it is like looking at a picture of Travis, and I’m sure that when they look at each other, it is like looking in a mirror. And their personalities…well, anyone who knows them can tell you that Caalab definitely got his personality from Travis. Wow…it’s like they rehearsed it or something.
But, sometimes when I look at a picture of Caalab, he reminds me so much of his mom that it astounds me. He smiles like Amy smiles, and when they are both deep in thought, they look so much alike. I have pictures of them as little babies, that could almost pass for the same child, and yet I have seen pictures of Travis as a young boy that are totally Caalab.
It isn’t unusual for a child to look totally like one parent or the other, or be so much a mix of the two that the child doesn’t really look like either of them, but to look so much like his dad, and yet sometimes look so much like his mom, seems unusual to me. Of course, I must say that with Caalab, it is pretty much in a look here and there, and certain situations that he is like his mom, because in most ways, I have never seen a boy more like his dad!! It’s almost uncanny.
I guess children are their own people, built from the DNA of their parents, and taking from both sides, but sometimes there is enough alike in them to take you by surprise. And when the similarities come so early on in life, you just can’t believe that it is the child copying the parent. Caalab has always been a jokster, as has Travis, but when Caalab started telling whole jokes at 4 or 5, and never missing the punch line…I had to remind myself that he couldn’t be reading them. It was just Caalab being just like his dad. That is one place where he is definitely all Travis.