Genes

Today would have been my mama's ninety fourth birthday. In the last few years of her somewhat demented life, she was obsessed with genes. Who got the smart gene, the creative gene or the writing gene. We already know who got the nice gene. Shoot me. Did it come from her great-grandmother who's painting I have hanging on my wall? Her father who had a grade three education and came over on a boat from Glasgow alone at thirteen and seemed to be very good with wiring? Or my father who had such a love of the natural world?

We gathered as a large family after she died to swap stories and well, drink a fair amount of vino. And there it was. Four generations of mom's chin staring out at us. I see my brother in more than one of my sister's sons. I see dad in my nephews. A quick movement, a long smooth tanned back, a flick of the hair. One of my nieces is a dead ringer for mom at her age. Fortunately she uses better skin products so she will age beautifully. My sister's two year old grandson is like me not only in looks but personality poor kid.

As you know because you're so deeply interested in my life, my children are adopted. I have some old and faded photos of their birth moms and grandmas and fathers and siblings. My son has his father's elegant nose and his grandmother's intense gaze. My daughter was the ninth child in her birth family. Genes like crazy. She now has a son with the same chocolate ears I peered into for the first time thirty some years ago on a remote Caribbean island, and fell in love. She and her son have the same crooked eyebrows. My son has a bent toe on his right foot and the worlds thickest hair. I want the thick hair gene.

I adore my kids. I got to be a mom. But OK...sometimes every once in a while I wonder if those fertility drugs that cost thousands of dollars and turned me into a mental case had actually worked. Would a biological child of mine have had that chin. Just saying..


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