What can I say, I’m desperate …

I need a distraction. I need to take my mind off the lunacy of the US presidential race and the heredityhorrifying images of carnage every time we turn on the TV.

Guess I’m grasping at straws because suddenly, out of the blue, I started to think, and wonder, about heredity; and why we inherit some traits and characteristics and not others.

Both my parents loved chocolate. In the extreme. I never did, not even as a child. At three years old I loved olives and pickles, turned my nose up at cake and cookies and candy.

If I am going to have a bonbon, my preference runs to chocolate covered orange peel, or chocolate covered ginger (and always dark chocolate) so the sweet is tempered with something bitter or spicy. One satisfies me, whereas my parents could have devoured a box. Give me a jalapeño anytime.

Why didn’t I inherit their sweet tooth?

My mother had diabetes. Her identical twin sister did not, she had cancer. My mother had many things wrong with her medically, many of them serious, but cancer wasn’t one of them. Their younger sister had neither.

My maternal grandmother was one of nine children. Five of them (my grandmother being one) had either alzheimers or dementia. Why didn’t the other four? To the best of my knowledge no one else in their family had it.

My mother had a beautiful voice. My father couldn’t have carried a tune if his life depended on it. Why did I take after him, instead of her? Why did I have green eyes like she did, instead of dark, almost black eyes like my dad?

No one in my family, on either side, other than me, is a writer. Where’d I get it from?

I have a friend who’s a redhead. I knew her dad, I know her mom, her sisters and brother, niece and nephews, not a redhead among them. But she has a grand nephew who takes after her.

When I was a kid my parents were friendly with a couple who had twin sons. Those boys didn’t even look like they were from the same family. One of the boys looked just like his dad. The other one didn’t look like anyone. One was creative and the other didn’t have a creative bone in his body. Their personalities could not have been more different.

Why are there generations of doctors in some families? Why can the same two people have three or four kids and each and every one of them is completely different from the other, or so much alike it’s creepy — in looks, talent, intelligence, personality, whatever? Why do some families have a propensity for certain diseases (mental and physical) or conditions or weight problems or addictions or anger or baldness and others don’t?

Do you ever think about stuff like this?


4 thoughts on “What can I say, I’m desperate …

  1. Yes I do too. Both my parents were tall- Dad 6ft 1, Mum 5′ 10″ why oh why did I only reach 5’4″? and I got their broad build- haha It is so interesting to look back at your family members and spot the common traits characters and looks.My Daughter is so like my Mum in so many ways- its a real comfort to notice that everyday – although she is sometimes a pain- and I think- just like Mum used to be- bless her 😉 Great post Fran, that you for the distraction 🙂

    • Thanks Caryl. Just the other day I saw a photo of Jackie Kennedy’s eldest grand daughter (Caroline’s daughter.) she looks so much like Jackie Kennedy it is amazing. Yet her sister looks just like Caroline Kennedy and neither look like their father. I find it fascinating.

  2. All the time. My mother and brother couldn’t carry a tune, but my father and sister and I all loved music and played instruments or sang.
    I’m a human biologist, and for years I was at odds with friends, even educated friends, when I suggested that a LOT (maybe even half or more) of our talents, behaviors, and preferences are genetic. Nowadays, it’s a position more supported by contemporary evidence.
    Yet, our collective diversity has a selective advantage. If we were all alike, a single toxin or pathogen or environmental disaster could wipe us all out. Collectively, if we’re different, AND if we don’t try to oppress those who are different from us, we’re all better off.

    • I’m not a biologist and I can absolutely believe that a lot of who and what we are is inherited — and that’s just from what I observe. I find it fascinating. Your work sounds very interesting. And I completely agree that it’s an advantage that we’re not all alike, for all kinds of ideas, including how boring it would be. And I’m with you on embracing and celebrating our differences rather than oppressing them.

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