My wife and my daugher — they’re 2 peas in a pod

Published 8:26 pm Tuesday, August 16, 2011

“Excuse me,” the man said to the two ladies sitting at lunch in Bainbridge. “Do you mind telling me who that young lady was that just left?” “Catherine Vanstone,” they said.

“She looks just like my high school history teacher,” he replied. It turned out that some 25 years earlier, during a brief tenure at Ashford Academy, Mary Lou Ponder was in fact his teacher for two years. Imagine his surprise when he learned that Catherine’s maiden name was Ponder.

I might pass that off as one of those coincidences that come along occasionally in our lives, except that this was the second time in one week.

Email newsletter signup

Earlier in the week, Catherine was attending a conference at Unicoi State Park near Helen in north Georgia. While eating lunch, a lady walked up to her and asked if she might be Mary Lou Ponder’s daughter.

It turns out that Kathy Doster, an old teaching colleague of Mary Lou’s, had retired years ago to the mountains of north Georgia. Though Catherine was just a child when she left, she somehow knew that the young lady walking across the dining room had to be related to Mary Lou. She was right.

In the space of one week, two people who really never knew Catherine identified her as Mary Lou’s adult child. They were both in a place that wouldn’t make a recollection likely. It was simply that they look alike, walk alike, and even talk alike.

As mother and daughter, they are like two peas in a pod.

I might say it is just their looks, but really it is more than that. They think and act the same way. They both talk with their hands. They even have the same emotional makeup in many ways. If they weren’t parent and child, you would think they were twins.

In many ways I have envied that genetic bond that manifests itself in so many ways in their relationship.

Our other daughter, Elizabeth, certainly looks more like me than Catherine, but she is much more a blend of the many branches of her family tree. That independence in many ways is what defines her.

It is somewhat ironic, then, that she married a twin. Both daughters share first cousins that are twins. They both had great uncles that were twins.

Henry, our first grandchild, was the spitting image of his other grandfather, Jack Vanstone, at birth. Laura, our second grandchild, looked exactly like her father, Grant, the first moment I saw her.

Who is my other pea in the pod?

I don’t worry about this at all. The older we all get, the more I see myself in my children and grandchildren. It may not be physical, but there is a part of me there that I can see. They all got some of the good and bad.

Physically, I see my father in my face more each passing year. My brother has the Beall features and looks more like my maternal grandfather. My sister is her own person in many ways, but with looks and traits that blend from both sides.

It isn’t always just our family that we resemble. We often have friends with whom we share similar traits. Television shows occasionally feature how similar a pet and their owners look alike. Some couples that have been married for a very long time seem to look more and more alike.

Most of us have either seen or had someone tell us about someone else that looked like our “twin.” Perhaps with nearly 7 billion people on the planet it isn’t that surprising that at least one person favors each of us. What is incredible is that we often have the opportunity to actually see that person out of such a mass of people.

Sometimes it works exactly the opposite way. My brother and I are partners, neighbors and best friends, but are as opposite as two people can be. My daughters are not quite so different, but no one is going to mistake them for twins.

Some of the best friends in my life have had very different interests than I have. Some are pretty similar. It doesn’t really matter to me what you share with a friend beyond friendship.

Who hasn’t seen an Elvis impersonator in their lifetime? Who hasn’t seen someone that looks like Marilyn Monroe or Jackie Kennedy? Comedians often make a fortune simply by looking like the current president, whoever that might be.

Some more extreme examples involve people having plastic surgery to look more like their hero or someone famous. Improve your own looks if you must, but to spend money and endure pain to look specifically like someone else, no matter how famous, seems a bit much to me.

God seemed to make my wife and oldest daughter so much alike. Like two peas in a pod, they share things I can’t begin to understand. On the other hand, I get to marvel and enjoy their relationship from afar.

Dan Ponder can be reached at