Sunday, August 5, 2012

Passing our looks to our children

People always tell me that my son looks just like me. Of course I agree. I had not thought about other members of my family looking like each other until my newly found cousin sent me some old pictures that had been passed down from my Grandma Mary. I was so thrilled to get pictures of my great-grandmother Jennie Rourke Gillespie. I didn’t even know there were any pictures of her. Her face is so interesting. She looks like a woman who has experienced so much.  By the age of 30, she had lost her husband so she packed up her three children in Ireland to follow her brothers to Ohio.  I don’t know anything about her childhood, but I have to assume she lived on a farm since she was the guiding force behind the establishment of the family farm in Ohio.

My cousin also sent a picture of Grandma Mary and our Aunt Roberta. I discovered that my aunt had been named for my great-grandmother Roberta Hixson Rawlings when I started my genealogical research. I had grown up calling my aunt “Aunt Bertie” and I know that her siblings had used the same name for her. When I received the picture from my cousin I learned that in California my aunt was called “Robbie”. I think I like Robbie better.

I was able to spend some time with my Aunt over the years. She would come to Ohio and stay for extended visits. I found her to be so fascinating. She had been a member of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word for several years. Her religious name was Sister Mary Robert.  I would have loved to watch her “shoot baskets” with the other nuns in full length habits. She also taught several of the sisters to play chess. After leaving the convent, Robbie had another calling and went to Africa to work as a medical lab technician. I always enjoyed the pictures she would send home to Grandma Mary. She made California her home when she decided to retire from her missionary work. My cousin knew her Aunt Robbie very well since she made her home near her sister Gladys, my cousin’s grandmother.

The other day I was looking at the picture of Grandma Mary and Aunt Robbie when it suddenly occurred to me that Robbie was almost a mirror-image of great-grandmother Jennie!  I don’t know why that surprised me as much as it did. In another picture of Gladys when she in her early 20’s there was a very strong resemblance to my sister Zoe at the age of 14. I could probably match up a dozen look-alikes in 15 minutes…and I haven’t even looked at my mother’s family yet.

My father Henry with Sister Mary Robert

Aunt Robbie in Cameroon

Great-grandmother Jennie

1 comment:

  1. Hello. I came across your blog and was wondering whether your aunt Robbie ever taught at All Saints Catholic School in Bridgeport, West Virginia. My first grade teacher was named Sister Mary Robert. This was in 1965-1966 and after I got out of the first grade, Sister Mary Robert was no longer at All Saints. I have often wondered what ever became of her. I remember than she played the piano and the ukulele. I wonder if your aunt could be the same Sister Mary Robert?