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Family resemblances….

March 3, 2011

Back in the early 1990s I went through the phone book to see if I could locate any of the descendents of my grandfather’s mother’s family – the Hanna’s.  He was separated from his family when his mother died at 23 when he was only a toddler, and I had very little information about his Hanna family.  He had had contact with them over the years, but I never got an opportunity to talk to him directly about them – only what my grandmother told me, from what she knew.

I eventually did find someone who knew what I was talking about, and was invited over to meet some relatives.  I had a lovely day with them and they gave me some photos.  The first one they showed me was the photo of my great-grandmother, Marion Hanna – she’s up there in the header.  As soon as I saw that photo, I had a sense of recognition. I’d never seen her (obviously – she died in 1910) or a photo of her before, and yet she was instantly familiar.

I realised the other day, looking at her, that she looks like my aunty – who I share a very striking resemblance to – and therefore, she looks like me – except I don’t have the beautiful hair (which I’m sure she hated).  The strange part about that is that all my life I have felt that I should have had hair just like that, and always felt a bit ‘ripped off’ that i had very straight brown hair, when I should have had thick frizzy auburn hair.  Why did I feel like that, when I had never known her?  Eventually a young cousin was born with spiral curly red hair – but that was later.  I looked at the photo and said ‘oh, she has the hair I always wanted’ and the woman  who was holding the photo said ‘yes, it was auburn’.  I was gobsmacked.

Greer Hanna 1914

Then she handed me this photo.  This is Greer Hanna – my grandfather’s uncle, and one of Marion’s brothers.  He doesn’t look much like HIS brother, Langford Hanna, who is also up there in the header, with the curly brown hair.

But as soon as I saw Greer, I saw my father.  I don’t have many photos of my father, but here’s one.  What struck me in the photo of Greer was his stance – just like my Dad, and his hairline and face – not exactly the same, but very similar – to my eyes, anyway.

My Dad’s brother, a couple of years younger than him, doesn’t look like him – he has brown curly hair and different features.  But then when I saw the photo of Langford, I realised that Langford looks like my uncle.  The resemblance is not as close as with Greer and my Dad, but the differences between Greer and Langford are the same differences between my Dad and his brother.  His brother is living, so I won’t post a photo of him.

These men – Greer and Langford are my Dad and his brother’s great uncles – a couple of generations removed.

One day more recently – a few years ago, I was looking at photos I had on the mantle in my bedroom.  My grandmother and my daughter.  The photo of my grandmother was this one.  My granmother is on the left in this photo – the other lady is her best friend.

And the photo of my daughter was a pre-school photo taken when she was five years old.  What struck me looking at those two photos together was that they both had the same expression – exactly!  One an old lady and the other a pre-school aged child – but still I could see the same expression on their faces.  My grandmother is naturally, my daughter’s great grandmother, and they have never met, as my grandmother died before she was born.  And yet they share features and facial expressions.

I like that.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 6, 2011 8:48 am

    I love this sweet photo of your granny and her best friend. You can see the mischief on their faces, their shared humour, how close they are.
    Isn’t it crazy how personality traits and behaviours, even physical ones such as gaits or particular gesticulations can get passed on? Greer Hanna looked quite handsome in that old photo!

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