All children have a fantasy that they don’t belong to their family of birth. I actually was a Cherokee princess, kidnapped from my tribe, or sometimes the sad orphan of a rich, privileged family that was tragically wiped out by war or disease. Maybe it’s a function of reading The Secret Garden or A Little Princess, or any of myriad children’s books that glamorize the feeling of strangeness or not-belonging so many of us have. Eight Cousins was another, in which the little orphan girl is taken in by a bachelor uncle and discovers she has eight boy cousins, all of whom come to adore her, of course.
My fantasy was compounded by not actually looking much like my sisters and brother. My eyes are a weird light hazel, and my hair had auburn tinges in it. However, if you took my parents’ faces and gave me the top of Mother’s, and Daddy’s from the cheekbones down, you got my face. Apparently my coloring came from my grandfather, and my lack of height from both grandmothers. Amazing how you can mix and match the genetic pieces!
I never thought there was much resemblance among us sisters or cousins until I looked at this photo, years after it was taken at my nephew’s wedding. At first glance, we don’t look alike. We’re tall, short, square, willowy, young, older. My cousin Marvel particularly does not resemble the rest of the family. Then I noticed our legs. We all have calves and ankles that are shaped the same. So it’s from Mother’s side of the family–Bowers legs.
Mother would say they are bad legs, because some of us tend to painful knees and arthritis. But I think that curve of calf to ankle is kind of nice. Now I have to hunt for photos of the younger generations and see if the shape has been passed on. I hope that piece of the genetic code has legs!