|Sage Grass & Cedars|
|Passing on Family Traits|
by Darrell Thompson
All of our families have traits that are passed down from generation to generation. Most of these traits are expressed in physical characteristics such as stature, good looks, hair color, etc. It can be as great as a son or daughter being the "spitting image" of a parent or a single strongly defined feature such as eyes, nose, mouth, etc.
Sometimes the passed-on trait may not be so much physical but expressed in mannerisms, not inherited in our DNA but learned in our association with those who have strongly influenced our lives. I have seen many young boys imitating the mannerisms of their fathers and grow up so defined by those mannerisms that everyone knows who they are because they knew the father.
Working at the Co-op is a good place to observe many things, especially in people. I have had the opportunity to see people at their best behavior and occasionally some at somewhat below their best, not to say that there is never a circumstance where even that is understandable.
I think that most folks, including myself, tend to let our demeanor vary to some degree depending on what the circumstances are or even dependent on what kind of day we are having. The degree to which we do this can vary from slight to very noticeable in different people. There are also some who are hard to tell what kind of day they are having because they don’t have an outgoing, friendly personality. These are not necessarily unfriendly people but just don’t show their emotions and express their feelings as much as some others do.
Another group of people seem to be always on top of the world with everything going their way. I’m sure they don’t live in an utopian world where everything is perfect. They probably don’t have any better or worse luck than anyone else, but maintain a positive attitude that makes everyone around them feel better.
A few days ago I had the pleasure of waiting on such a person when he visited our Co-op. He was a pleasant, friendly fellow with a voice that conveyed his happiness and contentment. It made me wonder what it would be like to sit near him in church and listen to him sing, if he sang with the same joy and zest that he obviously lived by.
It turned out that he was raised in the area but had lived for quite a few years in a neighboring state and, I gathered, was in the process of moving back. Before he could conduct his business and leave the store, several more people had stopped him to talk about old times. Most recognize him only because he was the spitting image of his father. As he was leaving, I realized how obvious it was that he fit in with other members of his family that I knew.
His father had been very active in Co-op affairs many years ago until his death perhaps fifteen years or so ago. He also was a person who was always overflowing with friendliness and a positive attitude. It made no difference what the situation was; he was the same during good crops, bad crops, times of plenty and times of hardship. He was a family leader who led by example and his influence was felt throughout his whole family. This trait he had and was passing on probably did not originate with him because there are brothers and cousins (that I know of) exhibiting the same family traits. If that is not good enough, the trait seemed to pass on even into people that married into the family. Of course, it could be that family members just refused to marry anyone who did not conform into these family values that have been handed down.
Meeting this young man and realizing that I should have at least known by his mannerisms what family he belonged to made me wonder about what kind of traits I’m passing on. Of course, with my children practically all grown, it is a bit late to begin wondering about such things. Years from now, will people who know me recognize anything that reminds them of me by traits in my children or grandchildren? If so, what will those traits be…anger or calmness, honesty or dishonesty, friendliness or rudeness? There is a long list of possible attributes.
I think all families have those individuals who exhibit traits other family members would like to emulate. I’m thankful there are and have been some such individuals in my own family that I can feel that way about. My mother is far from the least of these. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last October and has since became a diabetic and suffered a stroke which has rendered her partially paralyzed, bedfast and unable to talk. Her courage, perseverance, patience and ability to smile through it all are qualities that I hope some day will be evident in myself to those who knew her. Perhaps someday someone will say "I should have known you were Margaret Thompson’s son."
Darrell Thompson is the Moulton store manager of Lawrence County Exchange.