Thursday, January 12, 2012

How I Am Me
This is one of my favorite photos of myself. I think I look thoughtful and engaged.

I have some old family photos that my cousin Judy sent me, photos from the Cundiff branch of my family. Judy's mother and my grandmother were sisters, maiden name Cundiff. There are so many surnames floating around in the family tree of me. Smith - Ernest - Philpot - Slade - Cundiff - Shufflebarger - Carbaugh - 

I was looking at those pictures and saw this:

and this:

and this:

I saw myself, in the faces and poses of these women from my past. 

I never really felt that connected to my mother's ancestors. MawMaw's siblings had already begun to dwindle away into the fogs of memory by the time I was a adolescent, and the tales we were told were those of toil and hardship. Husbands dying, children with sickness, dreams and aspirations crushed under the weight of the Depression. 

Perhaps the perspective of age has opened an ability in me to see what was always there.

My family has the habit of saying of me, "Oh, she is all Smith." I may have a lot of mannerisms and attitudes from my father's family. I definitely have his sardonic, sarcastic ways. Yet there is more to me than that, and I have discovered the partial source in these photos. 

We are who and what we are by nature and nurture. Not either/or but both. I have a daughter I gave up for adoption at birth. I was given the gift of meeting her face to face two years ago. I was floored.

When she was just a babe in arms I had been sent a picture of her, and felt that it resembled one of me at a similar age. When we connected after she was already grown, I had to opportunity to see pictures. I felt she looked like me. Nothing prepared me for the experience of sitting across the table from a person that had my gestures, lifted her left eyebrow as I do, was wide if hip and hearty of laugh as I am.

We are unique one of a kind individuals, humans. Yet we are the result, the culmination of all those that came before us. 

I especially like the lady in the porch swing. Attitude. It can carry you over many bumps in the road of life.

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