I have often heard the expression “It took my breath away” and I understood what it meant intellectually but cannot say I ever truly experienced that feeling.
Until a couple of months ago……..
I was at our neighborhood park with my grandson, Sean, who turned two this month. He was running ahead of me and he bent down to pick up a pine cone and looked up at me. I then had my “took-my-breath-away-moment” as he looked exactly like my son, Christopher, when Chris was that age. In fact, I have a photo of Chris in a very similar position….bending down close to the ground at a park (included in the photos at the end.)
Both Chris and his wife Allison are similar in physical looks and I have seen a mixture of them in Lauren but to me she favors her mother. And others have told me that Sean looks like Chris. But it was not until that moment that the resemblance jumped out at me and literally, I felt the breath suck out of me and time froze still for a moment.
It is fascinating to me how genetic code creates such family resemblances and in our case, this genetic code stems from my father, William Cleare Filer. He went by the name Cleare (pronounced as one syllable as in Clair). My father was blonde and had blue eyes and for his era was a bit taller than most men. I inherited his looks and for women of my generation, his height.
My mother was a brunette and when she would attend my school conferences, the teachers would say “You can’t be Janet’s mother” but when my father walked into the room, they realized where I came from. The saying I would hear was “The apple does not fall far from the tree.”
And that saying applied to me and Chris—especially when he was younger. He was my clone—both physically and in thought, action, word and deed. My ex-husband would look at Chris and shake his head and say that the only thing he gave Chris was a Y chromosome. (Not entirely true, may I add… Chris has his father’s hands and long fingers and his logical way of viewing things.)
When Chris was younger, he was always on the go and walking with him in the mall was like watching a meteor come crashing down to earth—he was just hurtling through space…. He was all arms and legs and running or walking fast and not watching where he was going. He would run through the house and jump up and high-five every door frame. I had visions of him going for an interview one day at IBM and walking through the door and touching the top of the door frame.
When he was younger (as in elementary school) he was always asking questions such as “where does I-75 begin and where does it end?” This was pre-internet days and trying to find answers was a challenge. (By the way, it ends in Michigan.) And one answer would lead to another question such as “well, where it ends…is there a sign that says I-75 ends here?” (Still do not know the answer to that one!!)
But as he grew older, his father’s personality started taking over and he became more reserved. (He was always reserved in larger group settings but now he became reserved in his day to day life.) He became logical and I was now trapped in a home with two logical men and life became more challenging for me. The only family member left that I could relate to was our Golden Retriever, Gretchen.
Yet today, I still see aspects of me and my father in Chris…one being Chris’ love of friends and family. He still has some of my social side to him……Chris truly enjoys entertaining and having or going to a good party. But most importantly, I see the love he has for his children … that kind of love that also connects him to my father.
And now the physical tall-blonde-blue-eyed genetic code continues… as well as some of the personality traits….as seen in Sean William Haldeman. Sean has an infectious smile—on days when I pick him up from childcare to bring him home, he walks through the building blowing kisses at the staff and waving and saying “bye-bye”.
He loves to run and turn around and smile and is joyful ….. I am suspicious he too will be hurtling through space just as his father did—a meteor falling to earth and asking questions and wearing you down with his energy.
I do not know the kind of man my grandson will grow into …. But I hope he can keep the same love of family, friends, and life that his great-grandfather had and his father has. It is this love that could be his strongest legacy. It is my hope that it will be also mine…. That my love of family and friends … as well as my faith …. will be what comes to mind when others think of me.
So, for your viewing pleasure a series of photos—showing that the Apple did not Fall far from the Tree.
The First Tree/William Cleare Filer (1943)—Christopher William Haldeman(Winter 1980)—CWH (Fall 1980)—Sean William Haldeman (2014)—JFH and CWH 1988—JFH and CWH 1994—JFH and CWH 2007—JFH and Sean 2014—JFH and Lauren 2014—Lauren Elizabeth Haldeman and Sean William Haldeman 2014