Instread, his facial features are divided between Z and my father (hairline, eyebrows, nose, mouth belong to the former; the latter supplied the forehead, eyes and chin).
But I AM there. I hide, I bide my time. I come out from him in his mood swings, his sensitivity, his brand of stubborness and sweetness. We have the same way of clinging to things we like, he and I, the same attachment to food and the same packrat tendencies. And his grin? That is 100% pure me.
It's marvellous strange what crafty wily things genes are. How they hide and divide, stowaway or skip generations. My son is
I love looking at him, wondering what else he carries. Has he inherited my father's talent for music, his singing voice? His father's passion for discovering what things are made of and how they fit together? My grandmother's charm and steely, unflappable digestive constitution?
And the other things too of course. The dangerous, treacherous ones. Hypertension, heart disease, aneurysms. And the other ones, that are even harder to decipher. The hungers, the anxieties, the memories of loss and shadows of burden. My father's sadness. My grandmother's craving. The memories of being wronged and hating. The corrosive toxic feeling of never being right, or wanted, or good enough. Ticking bombs. Cracks in the ice.
The ancestors live in us. They rule from shadow. Like characters in fairytales, they gather to bestow gifts upon babes. (But there is always an other. The uninvited fairy who is nonetheless a part of the story). The ancestors may find death restful, but they are no good at being inconscpicuous. They still hunger to live, to be remembered, to be heard, to tell their stories.
The ones who died, or fled, or lived. The ones who were dragged from their houses to be shot, the ones who hid in other people's houses, who survived in cellars and cupboards and loosely bricked up walls. The ones who fought in wars, and the ones who waited for them, and the ones who never came back. The ones who were hungry, and cold, and poor. The ones who rose like firebirds. The ones who sang, or painted, or saw beautiful things. The ones who loved,fiercely and sometimes secretly. The ones who adopted children, the ones who were adopted.
Each generation carries the others. Remembers their stories. Passes them on. We are one whole. The lost children, and the living ones. Saying: you are ours, and you will never be lost. Also: remember us and sometimes when making salad, add dill and sugar to taste.
Mine has always been a restless family. We are obsessed with other pastures and what lies beyond horizons. The sort of people who take Here be dragons as an invitation and go Well let's go have a look then. We belong to no place, but we are bonded to one another, with sacrifice and tears and blood. But mostly love.
The ancestors inhabit the light and air. Bodiless, they cartwheel in space. They leave no traces in mirrors, no prints on the carpet, no dent in the bed. They are a fabric of every room - like wallpaper.
Your bones are our bones. Your son is our son too. Our dreams are the foundations upon which your dreams were built.
We are here. We are here. We are always here.