by LR Hudgins
We inherit more than genes from our parents and grandparents
|We are our parents. Not in a literal sense, but in the way that we inherit their aspirations and talents. Even when we are not aware of it, we reflect their silent wishes, and make decisions based on their hopes. I recently discovered how many of my own dreams and desires are really based on those of the generations that went before me.
My paternal grandfather always wanted a Nash automobile. It was the 1930s, and in his mind, the Nash was THE car to own. Because of the Great Depression, he never had the chance to buy one, but when my father grew up, he purchased a Nash – because it was what his father wanted.
Grandfather also wanted to be a chess champion, but his lack of ability to play chess was an obstacle he never overcame. My own father eventually learned to play chess rather well, studying the moves of chess masters the word over. He taught my sister and I to play the game, improving our strategic abilities, and improving our logical mind. The dreams of our grandfather helped to shape us in ways he could never have envisioned.
We adopt the "sense of place" borne by our parents. My grandfather was always moving – he must have been part gypsy, I think. He worked on the railroad – even built the train system inside the Radford Army Arsenal. (See "Larger then Life," below). And like his father, my Dad traveled when he was a young man – Alaska, Louisiana, and California. He traveled to the Pacific in World War II and saw the horrifying reality of war. At the age of 42, Dad went around the world – an accomplishment in anyone’s book. When he retired, he went to work on the railroad - like his father.
Now, I have taken up the baton and continued the familial race to some unknown record. I have had 56 addresses in my 51 years. I have traveled to 12% of the world, lived on 3 continents (and 2 islands), and would rather travel by train than perhaps any other conveyance. The sense of wanderlust was there from the day I took my first breath.... a genetic predisposition to roam, a built-in compass, and a sense of adventure.
Through it all, there is a part of my mother as well - My mother always seemed to seek a place of refuge as her home. I have found mine on the side of mountains, nears rivers and lakes, in the woods of New England, making each place that I live a sanctuary - somewhere to get away from the world. There is still so much of the world I want to see; but when I get home, I want to get away from it. It is sometimes difficult to find balance in the disparity between my parents' viewpoints as I walk through each day of my own life.
The hopes of our parents are somehow infused into us; we can find ourselves striving to achieve a goal without knowing the source of that desire. My father wanted to graduate from college – in particular, he wanted to be a lawyer like his uncle, Ernest Williams. He took law courses, and was a police officer for many years, but the degree eluded him. When I grew up, I went to the best school we could afford, and graduated – then went on to get more degrees, just because it was what I wanted to do. Yet it’s as though my father wished so hard for something that it transferred into my genetic makeup. I often wonder where his dreams stop and my own desires begin.
Our inner voice can also come from our parents. My mother loved poetry, and read it to us when we were kids. I often find myself writing down my thoughts in prose or free verse - because it somehow makes it more soothing. My father is a song writer – and I have his talent for creating whimsical lyrics that poke fun at the world around us. My father and grandmother were both gifted musicians, and Dad could play any instrument he attempted. My sister Andrea accepted that gift – and has touched countless lives with her music.
My mother is a healer, and has a highly developed intuitive ability. I watched her cure the woes of stray dogs, dying plants and ailing family members. Her natural sense of balance and kindness of spirit drove her to find the life spirit in each being. She has managed to stay healthy without many medications - a miracle in this pill-driven society. Both my sister and I found our way into the medical field at one time or another, and when it came time to heal our afflictions, we sought both traditional and modern techniques to cure them. Our mother's touch can soothe and cure, and we aspire to do the same in our own lives.
So - we continue to walk in the footsteps of our parents and grandparents. We buy their cars, graduate from the college of their dreams, live in their ideal house, and impart their wisdom. If we are lucky, they only wished for the best in life. Or at the very least, that they dreamed of something more.