Monday, January 10, 2011

blood tests

I have to go get a blood test today. It's just routine, something I've had to do every six months or so since my cancer surgery 6 years ago. In the last couple of years, the 'sticker'--which I've learned is what blood drawers call themselves--has had trouble finding a vein in my arm. They either stick me multiple times (the proud ones) or simply take it from the back of my hand (the humble, gentle kind). Since I've lost some weight I wonder if they can take it easily from my arm this time....

The "requisition' for my blood--an interesting term--has over a hundred possible tests the doctor could check to tell the lab which test to do. And in spite of that, he wrote in a number for the test. It is a wonder to me about the secrets and mysteries that flow through the blood. It is astonishing what can be determined from a little vial of fluid from your veins. Blood carries with it so many things both obvious and deeply hidden.

We were down in Baltimore with my son's family this weekend. It was a great visit made greater by the fact that, on the way back, we didn't even slow down in the Speed Pass lane at the George Washington Bridge. Usually for a day or two before we go down or come back, I wonder and worry about the GWB and how much time we'll spend there.

As I was thinking about my blood test last night, I was pondering the absolute miracle of blood. Tegan, the 14 month old granddaughter, for a brief while half-a-year ago, looked so much like my daughter, her aunt, that it was eerie. I remember comparing pictures of the two and being astounded that, if it were not that Tegan's photo was obviously newer and of a more technically advanced quality that I would not have been able to say which was which. Tegan no longer looks like Mimi. Bern was holding her on her lap while Tegan played with Bern's face, and said, "who do you look like?"

Blood carries the characteristics of appearance within it. We 'look like' people because of blood. You know how you've said to a new mother, 'the baby has your eyes and her dad's nose'. Blood will win out, sculpturing our images in familiar ways.

Then my cousin and her two grown children and her son's two boys (5 and 7) came over for a visit. Another 3 generation group of people. I was astonished by how much Mejol's son looks like her and I could see characteristics of the Jones-look (mine and Mejol's shared blood) in her daughter.

Blood flows through generations the way water flows through streams, meeting other streams as the generations meet and mix. Fletcher's face may look like his mother's, but he is 6'4" or so and Mejol is 5' at best. Fletcher's father's blood gave him his height.

It is fun to ponder blood. On the way home Bern and I were saying one of our twin granddaughter's temperament is more like Josh while the other's is more like Cathy, her mother. I notice it in our two children. "You got that from your mother," I'll tell them--usually about characteristics that are less than desirable! But it is true, I see in my son's oppositional-ness, my own tendency to argue and stir up chaos. My daughter's introversion comes from her mother just as out-going Josh is like me. Both of them, luckily, got their musical aptitude from Bern! Already, Morgan and Emma carry tunes better than I do. That must be from their Chen blood and from Bern's!

I could go on and on but I need to go see my sticker.

You might want to ponder the incredible information blood carries and passes on in your own generations....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.