Like Father, Like Son: Three Generations of Fatherhood in One Photo

It was a quiet Sunday morning; my husband’s parents were in town to visit with their brand new grandson. As I tiptoed down the stairs, I spied Judah fast asleep on my father-in-law’s chest: they were both sound asleep on the couch. I snapped a photo with my phone, a truly magical moment that seemed all too familiar to me. I turned around, and there it was behind me, framed on the wall: an old photograph of my husband as a wee baby, fast asleep on his grandfather’s chest.

It was a moment 31 years in the making I was lucky to happen upon. When I paired the two photos together, I managed to capture three generations of fatherhood. What a gift.

As part of Jewish naming traditions, Judah’s Hebrew name is Yosef, in honor of his grandfather, Joseph. Joe, known to all of us as Pop, was my mother-in-law’s father. He passed away twelve years ago this November. (Even twelve years ago, Larry and I were a couple, sophomores in college. We weren’t even engaged yet, but we knew, even at twenty years old, we were soulmates.)

Pop was an eye doctor back in the day and he served in the United States Navy during World War II. Larry’s father Steve is now known to Judah as Pop Pop. Steve too, is an eye doctor, and he served in the United States Air Force. While Larry hasn’t necessarily followed in the family tradition of optometry, he does rely on a keen designer’s eye for the interactive media displays he works on as a technology consultant. All three fathers share a unique common thread: they are each Masons. Larry was inspired to join the Masons by his grandfather; Steve would join the Masons the following year, inspired by his son. Larry’s uncle Elliot (my mother-in-law’s brother) would also join the Masons as a result.

It’s amazing to me to see the family resemblances in the two photos even though the grandfathers in each picture aren’t related. My husband and Judah look like they could pass as twins!

I was so fortunate to have stumbled upon this quiet little moment, to capture a quick photo with my phone to preserve this beautiful moment for our son: a legacy of three fathers before him. I hope one day I’ll be able to add a third photo of Larry holding a grandson of his own, the legacy of grand-fatherhood and fatherhood continued.

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