When The Girl was home a while back, we were trawling through my parents’ old photo albums, looking for ‘proof’ that she has very similar features to her (late) grandmother, my own mother.
Of course, The Girl only remembers a little of her grandmother and that was as a barrel-shaped irritable, white haired old lady (which’ll be me one day. Wait – what do I mean one day!?).
Of course, to me, the similarity is always there. My Girl smiles and immediately I see my mother, in all her happy glory – which was very seldom, unless sherry or Gin were involved – and I love that they share the same mouth and that The Girl at least knows how to use hers properly. They’re probably about the same ages in these photos too, about 16/17 perhaps, where life is crammed to the gills with possibilities. In my mother’s case this meant finding a handsome man , getting married, having 2 children a budgie and a dog and then being as miserable with her lot in life as she possibly could for the rest of it. (You think I’m joking).
There’s another photo of my mother aged about 5, with her own mother, and I remember when Alice spotted it, at around the same age as this, she took it from me and looked very confused, asking: “Mummy, how come I’m black and white?” – the similarity then was astonishing – right down to the shiny bob and full fringe. I shall endeavour to locate this.
When my mum died, Alice wasn’t yet 5. The last thing she said to her grandmother was: “Gamma do you want some chokkit?” (Mum was in hospital at the time, waiting for a bed to become free in Southampton where we were all told the life-saving operation would be carried out – which turned out to be a bit of a tall story to keep dad from losing grip on his sanity as he watched the love of his life slip away).
And Gamma replied :”Oh, I shouldn’t really…” before breaking of a couple of squares of the Galaxy bar and trying to locate her mouth. She may even have smiled. In fact she smiled a lot more during those 5 days in hospital than I think I’d seen in our shared lifetime; funny how a brain tumour can chill you right out.
Which is why I love Alice’s smile so much – it reminds me that (without going too ‘Titanic’ on you) that genes do go on… travelling through the space/time continuum and landing wherever the heck they like and delivering the loveliest of surprises. I always knew mum had a beautiful smile, but it’s only because her granddaughter uses it so freely and daily, that I have come to see what a shame it was that she never did the same.