Thursday, April 25, 2013

Nice Genes.

The other day, I went over to visit Dad and sit with him.  As usual, after lunch, he was dozing in his recliner chair so I sat on the bed and studied his face.  I thought, as I had before, how young he looked in comparison to his age - how smooth and relatively unwrinkled his skin is and how his hair is still thick, if almost white.  The skin on his face is slack, however, I think because the facial muscles don't work as well anymore - it's what can give him a flat affect. I always think, though, that the fact that he started to lose his mind when he was young- along with worries, stress, and the awareness of aging - is what has contributed to his youthful appearance.

As I watched him sleep, idly going over his features, my eyes caught on his chin and I found myself really looking at it.  He has a big, lean, strong-looking face, and his chin had always contributed to that - grounding the rest of his features.  I had never really studied it that closely before but as I looked at it, I realized it reminded me of another chin - my own!  I have always thought my chin was a little odd - it has a cleft in it, like Kirk Douglas, or Michael Jackson after he decided he wanted to look like Kirk Douglas.  I read once that the cleft is a minor malformation of the chin bone, or something, and relatively rare - on the right face, like that of Kirk Douglas, it looks craggy and manly.  On my face it looks okay but it's definitely not cute or petite, and I always kind of wondered where it came from.  I realized I was looking at my chin on Dad's face. 

I look a lot like my Mother, and my Mother's mother.  From the shape of my face, to the shape of my eyes, even, I think, to the shape of my teeth.  When I look at pictures from my first wedding when I was twenty-four, I see my Grandmother staring out at me - we share the same soft jaw line and roundish eyes.  It's a little odd.  My face has changed a bit in the intervening twenty years so that it's not quite so obvious - now I think I look like myself, with touches of my Mom's family and elements that don't seem to really belong to anyone but me.

For the longest time, the only thing I thought I had inherited from my Father was his coloring - he and I both have blue-gray eyes and ash-blond hair.  I certainly didn't get his height since I'm 5'5 and he was over six feet in his prime!  Suffice it to say that I have never seen him looking out at me when I look at a picture of myself - but there it was, my chin!  As I looked at his chin, I realized that I felt happy that we shared it - that there was something definitive about me that came from him.  I felt a sense of kinship and connection that I sometimes lose since he and I don't really interact the way that fathers and daughters usually do.  It was a nice feeling, that genetic relationship and the experience of being part of a line that stretches back for generations of the same height, eye and hair color, and even shape of chin.


  1. Hi Joy, I enjoyed your post. I too have found myself gazing at my dad's face. Sometimes it is so child-like.
    I wanted to thank you for commenting and mentioning Lewy-Body. The sudden change in cognition was resolved. He had a series of strokes. He puzzled the doctors with so many strange symptoms. They were ready to chalk it all up to dementia. The pain in his ear didn't make sense at all. It turns out the pain was caused by an area of stroke causing inflammation pressing on the trigeminal nerve. His hallucinations were caused by other areas of stroke. His restlessness by yet others. I didn't want to say anything on my blog because of the ex. I didn't want her rubbing her hands in glee dreaming of money she stands to receive if he dies. (His divorce agreement was a bit unusual.)
    Dad is out of rehab. Physically he is doing phenomenally. Mentally he has taken such a downturn. It is sad. At the moment we can't leave him alone. He is impulsive and restless and tries to walk. His left side is weak and he has left side neglect as far as his vision goes, so he forgets to put his left hand on his walker. But, he knows enough to tell us he has to use the restroom. However, I know his mind isn't all there when he lets me take him and wipe his butt! (I told my brother he owes me... big time!) Dad is enjoying being back with his girl. His face lights up when she comes into the room. He recognizes us and remembers our names. We have nice conversations. If we stick to things in the past they often make sense :))
    Anyway, take care! (Oh.. I have a cleft in my chin, too - but Dad does not!)

  2. So glad you visited and commented, and thank you for telling me about your Dad! It sounds like he has a lovely caregiver in you. I'm glad you can have conversations and still enjoy each others company. Take care, and comment again - I'd love to hear how it's going!