Hugging, kissing, cheek pinching, hair tousling and chin chucking all while smiling, happy faces commend you on doing that which you have absolutely no control, growing.
How many times have you gone to family functions as a kid and gotten *the treatment* and how many times, as an adult, have you committed these acts yourself? It's probably not as prevalent today, what with the explosion of the internet, family blogging, emailing of photos and videos; families are much more connected these days, as least that is the perception. But still, I bet, somewhere, this weekend, as families gather to celebrate, a kid is being hugged, kissed, pinched tousled and chucked, all the while being informed as to how tall they've gotten.
My mother's family had a different little wrinkle in this ritualistic greeting where I was concerned. My aunts and uncles all greeted me with the prerequisite hugs, kisses and so on...but also with, "You look just like my dead sister, Geneva. Did you know that?"
Now, what in the hell was I supposed to do with this little bit of intel?
Did I know that? Well, I've been hearing this statement from each one of my 7 aunts and uncles and my mom ever since I can remember. I generally just accept the *compliment* with a smile and a nod.
I did begin to wonder though, did looking like my mother's dead sister Geneva (yes, she was always referred to as: dead sister Geneva) mean that I looked dead? Cute? Substantial? Inconsequential? I presumed it was a compliment, but was it really? Did it matter?
I also began to wonder about Aunt Geneva; who she was, how she died. I've never seen a photo of her..I don't know if any exists. She was an adult, married with kids, when she died, which was long before I was even born. I didn't meet her children until I was an adult. In fact, I met her grand-daughter before I met her daughter.
I worked up the courage to ask about Aunt Geneva when I was about 13 or so. I got nothing. No one ever talks about her...except to say how much I look like her, which I do take as a compliment, since it is always said with a smile and a nod.