Friday, September 9, 2016

Do You Believe in Reincarnation?

When my second son, Jacob, was born in 1997, he had a striking resemblance to my father who had passed away 3 1/2 years prior. It was quite comforting, yet a little on the eerie side. How could a tiny baby look so much like a grown man? We chalked it up to strong genetics. (But he happened to be the only one of my four boys with such strong Thompson physical traits.) 

As he got older and his personality was surfacing, it was evident that yet again, he was very much like the grandfather he never met. Jacob was quiet, analytical in his thought process, a savant with all things sports knowledge-related and very competitive. The love of sports and competitiveness ran strong through all four of my boys, but he was by far the most competitive. Unlike his older brother and 2 younger brothers, he was a bit of a loner at times who needed moments of seclusion to recharge. He was also the only early riser of our crew. Very much like his grandfather, he was a morning person, which was very much unlike everyone else in our entire family. 

Daddy - young adult
Jacob - age 15
Teen years approached, growth spurts hit, and I found myself straining my neck to have a conversation with him. At 6'-3", he reached the height of his grandfather. I walked in the living room one day after Jacob had decided to go with a cool new hairstyle and nearly fell over at the young man standing before me. This new "do" was identical to his grandfather's some 65 years ago. The person before me was the mirror image of many photos I had of my father growing up. Day after day, I watched Jacob morph into what I strongly suspect was much like his grandfather at that age. 
Creepy? Kind of. 
Cool? Absolutely.

Last year my mom passed away. I spent hours sorting through things of my father's, a lot that I never knew existed. I came across the photo on the right . This was my dad around the age of 20. To the left is Jacob at the age of 17. It stopped me in my tracks.

While the looks and personality freakishly parallel, I am taken aback even more so by the simplest and craziest of things between these two men.

Jacob is a freshman at Hampden-Sydney, an all male college in Virginia. My father graduated from VMI, an all male college (at the time) in Virginia. Both Hampden-Sydney and VMI abide by a very strict Honor Code. Both men were/are multisport college student athletes. Both men had/have an immense love of chocolate. And I don't mean the normal love of chocolate. I mean the - love of chocolate ice cream doused with chocolate syrup with a side of chocolate milk - kind of love of chocolate. And those similarities are just to name a few.

My mom used to say that she saw "Norris" (my daddy) every time she looked at Jacob. Do I believe in reincarnation? The beliefs instilled in me since childhood say profoundly, "No". The, hopeful 20-year-old girl who lost her daddy suddenly, part of me says "Yes, please!". The 43 year old me says "Maybe." Maybe, just maybe, there is a possibility that the spirit of my father lives again. It doesn't mean Jacob is "Norris". It means Jacob is Jacob who carried a gift with him when he came into this world. It isn't as if he knows he has it. It isn't tangible or obvious to him or to us. Maybe it surfaces in the subtleties of a hand the decision to put chocolate ice cream atop his piece of chocolate cake. And, quite possibly, it can be a little more apparent by similar decisions in life such as what college to attend and why.

Or maybe it's all just one big coincidence?

Either way, I feel lucky. When you lose someone, you want so much to see them one more time. I feel blessed to have moments of seeing a semblance of my father. 

I would like to believe our loved ones who have passed find an avenue to nudge us on occasion through others. It just so happens, due to "strong genetics", Jacob has the occasional ability to punch me right in the gut. 

In the nicest way possible, that is.

What do you believe?

(other than I've lost my mind)