Today, walking around in the yard, I met a jet black cat with one long white tooth visible on one side of his closed mouth. I had seen him other times and to this point he had always made himself scarce when he saw me noticing him. Today I stretched out my hand and spoke softly and he immediately turned and approached me.
Years ago, as I remember it, our neighbor who was doing yard work, came to us to report finding a batch of feral kittens. He knew there were die-hard animal loving children in our household and figured we would help solve his problem. He was right, of course. We raised this batch and my daughters named them after famous people. One that became a favorite of Julie, my oldest, was Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. He was Hammy, for short, and continues to live with her today. His unique characteristics are that he is small and compact for a male cat, has a sociable nature in a cat-like way, and is mostly black with a few crazy white marks.
In shape, size and nature today’s kitty was a match for Hammy and I wondered what genes they might share and if they had both started life in this same neighborhood. The tooth was a little unnerving but other than that this little guy was fun to pet. I think we have a bond going and I am calling him Snaggletooth.
The theme continued later this morning as Mom and I were conversing about our family relationships and how they also do replays. My dad often told stories of his early years at home and the influence his dad had on him. Even as he married and went out on his own, his dad was always involved in some way, giving feedback and support. Interestingly, my dad also has a very similar relationship with one of his sons. And taking it one step further, that son has a very close, remarkable similar relationship with his only son. And by now, it is almost beyond surprising, that this third generation son is very much the same with his fourth generation son. The sons may not have always agreed with the fathers (how rare, right?) or the fathers with the sons but there developed a high degree of compassion and appreciation in each case. After a few generations of repetition these things start to jump out and be noticed.
Further on in our talk Mom’s early childhood came up. She had a younger brother who was born last in the family and spent a lot of time with her. They were often together as children and she would pass the time making up stories to tell him. Their mother died when they were still young adults which added another layer of closeness to their brother – sister relationship. As she talked about it, I noticed how much it sounded like the way I feel about my youngest brother. Another comforting familial replay…
I’m not sure what all of this means, except that awareness of family influence and nurture might cause us to think more carefully about our parent – child interactions. Seeing patterns over such a long time period might give new meaning and strength to biblical references about blessings or cursings that last to the third and fourth generation, or longer. Just saying, it is interesting and food for thought.