Updated: Feb 5
The older my kids and the generation of my parents, uncles and aunts grow, the more I get flashbacks of my own childhood that are precious to me. Often I crack a smile to myself about how genes and experiences repeat.
Here are seven ways I observe a circle of family ties throughout the generations. I didn't set out to write seven, but it is where I rested. In thinking that seven is the number of completion, perhaps it is the perfect set for noting family strings. 💗
1) As I held my almost 4 yr old son the other night on the porch swing, I smelled his peach fuzzy buzzed head. Instantly, I was taken back to the days I would bury my face in my granddaddy's Old Spiced neck and still smell earth, wind, and sunshine.
I felt the glow of how God blesses the generations of the Earth, with the Earth itself. How our being is a mingling of the two - God's image and the ground under us.
I thought of the many days my Big Daddy crooked a brow, looked up from under his hat at the hot sun, sweat running down in a line following the strings of his shade straw lid.
I hope in our giggly tangle that my own son will have as many days inquiring of the clouds and planning his afternoons around solid work, iced teas, when's the best time for bass. I breathe that earthy grounding scent in with joy, hope, and gratefulness.
2) I note the way my husband looks at me has matured from the darting curiosity of a boy, into a knowing, accepting, and caring gaze and glance. His easy laugh echos the tail of the thunderous roar my own father had.
His face reflects the protection and understanding that is not surprised much anymore by my flighty reactions, fears, and guffaws. He loves me. All around. And I can rest easy in his love the way I knew I could rest in my own father's lap without concern.
3) My father has been with Jesus since 1999. But I see snippets of his mannerisms in my uncles and aunts. I grin a little each time I see a shoulder raised and a head tilted. It's this unique tick we all have that feels good in the tense shoulder muscles. You may notice, I do it too. We shrug then roll our heads quickly side to side.
I see my sweet and cheerful aunt do it as she bustles from task to task in the responsible and caring manner my Nana moved about the kitchen and rooms.
I see my uncle do it as he talks on television interviews about grace and faith. Each time I see it, I smile and feel the warmth of family bonds. This simple maneuver identities us as close kin, and I hope none of us ever drops the habit.
4) I spent many summers at my father's sister's house where I have a cousin nine years younger than me. I remember her little body, that round belly and tiny frame, always tan and bopping from one play thing to the next, splashing around in the pool and getting more golden with each easy, chlorinated afternoon.
My son is now that age, with that same toasty glow to his skin. It makes me smile to think maybe he will think of these long summer days the way I remember the sweetness of those afternoons with my little cousins.
5) My older son and I wrestle and play tickle fight everyday. He's getting old enough to wear me out. I remember that phase with my younger cousin, who is a handful of years my jounior. We would spend afternoons swimming and watching Star Wars when our rug wars would break out.
Finally he got too big and strong to wrestle with me. The same is happening with own big boy today. There's a little sadness there for this season fading out, but an excitement in the strength and solidness of a young and growing flaxen haired boy bursting with glory and energy.
6) I notice matchbox cars everywhere! In the yard, in corners of the house. I go back in time to remember my boy cousins from my mother's side, how they would line up each car to represent a driver on Nascar during races. We would watch TV and play the race with our own line up on the carpet.
The loud liveliness of boys and the "go with it" nature of my aunt are replaying in my own household. I often see my face in response to their antics and remember my aunt's dark eyebrows raised, pink smile cracking, and a dismissive laugh at the loud silliness we would perpetrate during our visits as I try to settle down my own wild things.
She mirrors the grace of my grandmother who always rocked us little ones. Today Mema rocks our babies (her third round) with little squeezes that smell of Tide and lotions, caressing with signature pink glossy nails, singing little songs about birds in their tiny ears.
How life repeats itself, and there is nothing new under the sun!
7) Often as I listen to stories of my uncle, my mother's brother, it's as if he morphs into my late Big Daddy for a moment. His fingers curled or spread in the air gesturing, the lifted neck at the exciting parts, eyes widening and then settling.
For a moment I enjoy the space ripping and cracking between heaven and earth, and I see the trickles of my grandpa's presence in the conversation of my uncle. It's sweet thing.
Being around his daughter, my cousin, and her children brings back memories of our playdates and sleepovers together - she has a boy and girl, just like she and her brother. I treasure the fun of remembering and now reliving memories from a new point of view.
My mother reminds me of her father too, in her own feminine and beautiful manner. She spins stories along the same delivery lines as he did, arms out, volume up, ending with heavy "hah!" and shoulder roll down that marks the punchy point on the end.
In her grandmotherhood, she makes art projects for the boys the same way she did with me, and cuddles them with a vigor intended to make time slow down a sweet moment (she still does this to me!).
When I look in the mirror I see my mother and aunts as I remember them in my own childhood. My older son carries sparks in his face from my father, uncles, and grandfathers.
I will never get tired of this showcase of origins, and observing how families teach each other how to communicate through the years. This communication in itself is a means of grace for belonging, loving, caring, and teaching. Our family ticks and ties are a widespread hug from the Lord for us fall into when we feel outside of the circle of value or tribe.
Notice yours and take a moment to savor them, as they will build and morph as the years trickle on.