This is another one of my familylore posts which I'm fond of sharing on my blogs. I grew up hearing about it, and even though it sounds downright superstitious, it seems to be eerily substantiated.
A bit of background is necessary. The year is 1961. My parents are living in a rented house with their toddler (me) and my older brother. Mom was always really close to her parents, and as they grew older it was she who kept an eye on them. Now they were living with us.
November brought the final illness of my grandfather. He died in the hospital at the ripe age of 77. This happened about two weeks before Thanksgiving. And a sad Thanksgiving it was for my mother. I was of course too young to remember it, but she often related how difficult it was to have our family Thanksgiving dinner there with my grandfather's empty chair.
Christmas was not better. We always cherished these winter holidays as family events. Mom was in a depression which continued throughout the heartbreaking, cold winter. But another thing happened that winter - right in the midst of my mom's sadness over the loss of her father: my younger brother was conceived (and duly delivered the following September).
When my younger brother was young it was more than obvious to all that he was the very - as we say here in the southern United States - "spittin' image" (really: spirit and image) of my mom's father.
And the older he got the more he looked like his late grandfather. The biggest difference in resemblance is he has our dad's brown eyes (as do I). But whereas my father stood 5'3" tall, my brother grew to be 5'10". The same height as Granddad! And he was until recent years lean and lanky like Granddad as well.
Mom always said she felt as if she had marked my brother in her womb because of the intense grief she experienced over losing her father. I don't suppose it is so unusual for a baby to resemble one of its grandparents. Yet the convergence of these events always lent a specialness my brother's birth. (In fact, my mom has some rather amazing stories about all three of her children's births).
So I guess genes do whatever they do, as does nature in general. However, I still find it hard to ignore meaningful coincidences and to give great credence to absolute randomness.