Posted by: Diane | September 20, 2007

Family traits

This is a picture of my great-grandfather in his shop. He was a tailor. I remember my great-grandfather as a very old man whose grey hair stood straight up on the top of his head. He always wore a vest with a pocket watch and had a thick German accent. He was born in a little town in what is now Romania, and many of his siblings died in a cholera outbreak. He emigrated to the U.S. as a young man.

I can’t sit down at a sewing machine without thinking of him. I wonder if my sewing skills would be up to his standards. I kinda doubt it, but it makes me pay a little more attention to making a straight seam and to take the time to press as I go, even though it’s a hassle.

There are other skills and talents I have that make me think of my lineage. My grandmother loved to paint. Her father liked to draw. I have some of his old pen nibs and her old paintbrushes that I use when I do ink and watercolor drawings.

I grew up in a household with a piano and many nights my father would play me to sleep on ragtime, boogie-woogie and oldies. My mother played classical and popular music. By the time I was six, I was begging for lessons. One of these days I hope I can play Scott Joplin like my dad did. I also play the flute and in the past I’ve monkeyed around with trumpet, harp, dulcimer, and piccolo.

How much is nature and how much is nurture, I don’t know, but I like to think about these links to those who contributed to my existence. I’m not heir to a great family fortune, but I must say, I’m happy with what they did give me!



  1. I think that nurture has a lot of sway in how we turn out. Case it point—I find it interesting that both my children are voracious readers. They’re different kinds of readers—Rosie can read a book a day (or several graphic novels a day); Tee takes his time and savors a book. Their biological father, who they haven’t been around much since they were quite young, didn’t read much. I, however, have read for pleasure since I was a young child, as did my Mom and Dad. I can read like nobody’s business, when I have the time. Lew reads magazines and detailed websites gleaning information for hobbies and work activities. He rarely reads just for pleasure. Tony and Zander rarely read for pleasure. Neither does their mother, from my understanding from conversations with the boys. Zander, however, reads more for pleasure than Tony does. Zander identified himself with our blended family more than Tony did for a long time.Both Lew and I read prolifically to our kids when they were young. Our home contains a bounty of books and magazines, plus we frequent the library regularly (especially Rosie). However, my children are the ones who read for pleasure and Lew’s children are the ones who primarily read for information to learn how to do something. Nature or nurture? I lean toward nurture.

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