Throughout my life, family and strangers would comment on how much my Mom and I looked alike and some even thought we were sisters. Back in the days when we had a phone attached to the wall in the kitchen with a super long curly cord and no caller ID, every single time I answered the phone, the person on the other side would say “Linda?” and sometimes would just start talking, not realizing that no, it was not Linda, it was her daughter. I’d angrily interrupt mumbling “no, it’s Samantha, hold on”, cover the phone while yelling across the house, “MOMMMM, PHONE”! Growing up and into my 20s, I really resented people making those comments or confusing me for her. It made me feel as if I didn’t have my own identity, since I looked and sounded like someone else. Like I was living in her shadow. My Mom was a stunning, petite blonde and to be honest, I envied her. Especially as a teen and through my 20s battling acne and weight fluctuations; meanwhile my Mom was thin, and from my view, was flawless. A little older and wiser now, I see what a tremendous compliment it is to look like my Mom and if I age the way she did, I’ve inherited some age defying genes! That doesn’t concern me too much right now, but hey, maybe one day it will be another gift to appreciate from her.
Besides age defying genes, there’s been a more meaningful reason looking and sounding like my Mom has turned from an envious feeling into a calming, comforting feeling. Ever since she died 4 years ago, there’s a constant internal panic that I will forget what she looks and sounds like. That I’ll forget her mannerisms, personality, quirks. That I’ll forget what her love feels like. These fears will probably be there for a long time but more recently, I’ve been experiencing something pretty cool. I could never see how I looked like her until last month. A friend took a photo of me while hiking when I wasn’t paying attention, and I was startled to actually see for myself how much I looked like my Mom; if you didn’t know it was me, you’d think it was her (she was usually very smiley but here in this photo, we share the same resting grumpy face and look like little hobbits; I’m 5’0 and she was 4’11). When I’m not rushing out of the house and have a little more time to get ready in the mirror and look at myself, I am starting to notice how our eyes in particular are similar and how when I look into my own eyes, it’s like I’m looking into hers. And scientifically I am – half of her DNA is what created these eyes. Instead of being insulted when similarities between myself and my Mom are pointed out, I am honored now. It feels like a tangible piece of her lives on through me in these different ways. When family and friends comment on the similarities – you sound just like your Mom, your smile is just like your Mom’s, your Mom felt that way too, you’re strong willed and bold like your Mom – I am grateful to share these traits with her and that my presence keeps her alive for others too as they are reminded of her.
I wish I had noticed and actually appreciated the similarities while she was here. Celebrated them instead of getting annoyed or offended. While I am so overjoyed that my Mom is in the best place ever with Jesus and I’d never wish her to be back here in this corrupted world, hanging on to her presence in my life is becoming increasingly difficult. Since giving my life to Jesus a year ago, it does make me sad that my Mom’s not here to share in the most important thing that’s ever happened and will ever happen in my life. Though God’s timing is perfect, I can’t help but wish that I had figured it out sooner, when my Mom was alive, so that we could’ve rejoiced in God together. I could’ve went to church with her willingly instead of reluctantly. I could’ve provided her more comfort while she was dying because we could’ve prayed together. It does break my heart that I couldn’t share in the most important part of her life. Yeah we share looks, voice and some personality traits but sharing our faith transcends all of that. I am grateful she had my Godmother, Deborah, to share her faith and celebrate God with. This sadness will hopefully fade with time and continue to be replaced with the peace of knowing she still lives on, that I will see her again, and that she is with me even though I can’t physically see or touch her. And that with family, friends, coworkers, you the reader, and so forth, I continue to honor her life by sharing stories, photos, and carrying on her legacy with God’s grace. Go rest high on that mountain Mama.