Like Father, Like Son

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“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

  • familiar idiom

Some time ago I noticed a brown age spot just above my left eyebrow. Long axis oriented transversely, its maximum dimension probably does not exceed 1 cm. It is not of great concern. It is flat (a macule), not raised (a papule), and has not enlarged over time. Surrounding tissues seem intact and not at all alarmed by its presence.

It doesn’t particularly bother me. I do not apply anything to mask it, although there are likely skin products which would accomplish that at least to some extent. Nobody has commented about it. They may not be aware, or are too courteous to say anything. I notice it most when I wash my face and when I apply sunblock. The sunblock cream, which I apply to my entire exposed facial skin, does little to hide its presence.

These things, along with some others, come with age. There’s something to be said for aging with grace (or resignation, if not acceptance).

I do watch it, more out of interest than anxiety, because I believe it to be benign. I do not forget, however, those who have succumbed to melanoma, the deadliest of the three common skin cancers.

I recall that my father, long deceased, had an age spot like this in his later years. With luck I happened to have some photos of him in file, and accessed them.

As I viewed, I discovered that memory served correctly. He not only had a similar skin lesion, it was also in similar location — above his left eyebrow. He also seems to have had others. No doubt with time I will catch up with him in this regard.

Christ was requested by His disciples, “Show us the Father.” He replied, “He who hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” More than once He stressed the unity between Himself and the Father (“I and my Father are one”). Whether He was speaking of more than character and temperament we may only someday know.

I have read that, during the Incarnation, had the Father come to Earth instead of the Son, and had He been asked by humans to show them the Son, He might well have replied similarly: “He who hath seen Me hath seen the Son.” Again, whether their resemblance stopped with purpose and nature remains a matter of conjecture.

My understanding is that such qualities as the omnis (omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence) apply in equal measure to both Father and Son.

I have three brothers and two sisters.

I have been told by someone who has met all that none of us really look alike. While that may be true on an absolute level, such assessment seems subjective.

There do seem to be certain resemblances that are hard to ignore.

I am also acquainted with our respective voices, and think that of one brother, in particular, resembles mine, or vice-versa.

Although age spots (also called liver spots and solar lentigines) are not considered hereditary, I can’t help wondering why I developed one just above my eyebrow in a very similar location (on the same side, even) as my father’s.

Genetics can be tricky, can exhibit varying degrees of penetrance. To wit: my mother had allergic rhinitis/hay fever. Three of her offspring (two siblings and I) have similar affliction which, for at least two of us, endures into the winter of life.

Two of my siblings have had myopia since childhood, requiring eyeglasses to avoid having to sit in the front row of school classroom. To my knowledge neither parent was myopic, but perhaps the gene for such lurked in their DNA.

One sibling has glaucoma, as do I. He used to speak of acquiring a guide dog. I once thought he was jesting. As my own glaucoma has become progressive, I think it less comical and wonder if he laughed because he was too old to cry (apologies to Adlai Stevenson, whose reaction to losing the race for POTUS — “I’m too old to cry, but it hurts too much to laugh” — I paraphrase).

Another sibling has macular degeneration, as do I. I’m unaware that either parent had either condition, but again, perhaps somewhere more distant in the family tree, a branch or twig carried something inimical. Then again, at the time of their retirement, macular degeneration was not a familiar recognized entity.

My mother, in her later years, had systolic hypertension. More than one sibling has or has had hypertension. At least for a time, my systolic blood pressure was elevated and I wondered if that might have come from my mother. After all, it would be unreasonable to expect only good to be passed on.

My father had some sort of dermatologic hypersensitivity, which appears to have manifested itself in various ways in some of his progeny.

One sister had eczema in her youth. I recall a small dark blue jar of Noxzema as well as a shiny metal juicer that sat on the kitchen table. My sister drank so much carrot juice at one time her palms took on a yellow hue.

Decades ago I developed urticaria and had a condition known as dermographia such that, at times, I could write my name on a pristine area of skin, such as with fingernail, and it would, almost magically, appear in itchy raised red letters.

Nancy Friday wrote a 1977 groundbreaking bestseller, “My Mother My Self,” in which she explored the unique interaction between mother and daughter. The galactic Mars version of this Venus work might appropriately be titled “My Father My Self.”

During the relatively short ministry of Christ, He reflected the Father with such verisimilitude that, at His baptism, the Spirit appeared as a white dove which alit on Him as the Father expressed His pleasure.

In the Lord’s Prayer, Christ taught us to address the Almighty as “Our Father.”

It follows that we are all the children of God. So a more appropriate title for this essay might be, “Like Father Like Child,” since both sons and daughters are intended for inclusion.

To my understanding, God has only good qualities. Only yang. No yin.

We could do worse than emulate those qualities. In that event, with grace, we may find ourselves in a place where there are no spots or blemishes, and a genetic code untainted by the less than salubrious.

Some things the Son will have that the Father will not (not that we will need such to differentiate the two): the scars on His hands/wrists, feet and side, forever reminders of a sacrifice so profound those of us for whom He lived and died can only marvel and be grateful.

Truth seeker. Searching for the cracks, which let light in. Believer in something that lies beyond our ability to sense, and the commonality of humanity.