As instructed, I stood in front of the blue tarp on the wall, removed my glasses, stared blankly ahead at the camera lens, didn’t smile, and waited for the flash. Maybe it’s because the photo on my new temporary driver’s license is a grayscale rendering from a DOT printer. Maybe it’s because the photo was taken at 4:15 p.m. on a dreary January afternoon. But good God, if this picture is to be believed, not only am I turning into my mother in what I do, I also more and more look like my father, my older sisters, and my paternal aunts and uncles. The Sternweis family resemblance is striking.
Hair graying at the temples, wrinkles in the same places — as I look at my driver’s license, I stare my heritage in the face. Not that that’s a bad thing. I like my heritage — as shown in my face as well as in the rest of me. The older I get, the more I realize I’m built like my grandmother: narrow upper body, but more substantial below, with solid thighs, sturdy calves, and big feet — what I like to call “having a good understanding.” I hail from durable German farm stock who found their way to Wisconsin more than 160 years ago.
I’m proud to be a Sternweis — that’s why I didn’t change my name when I married — and I’m proud to look like one, too.