The Man with the Mad Scientist Eyebrows

When showing people photos of my sisters, a common response is “I can tell you’re related”.

Quite frankly, my sisters and I see only the vaguest resemblance to each other, but perhaps we’re looking too closely.

Among our relatives, I’ve noticed instances where family members share physical attributes very closely. My cousin Jim looks very much like his father. My own father and his brother Joe look so much alike that there can be no doubt they are brothers.

In my family, my younger sister and I look more like each other than either of us look like our older sister. We both have blond hair that has darkened with age and a nose that we surely inherited from our paternal grandmother. We also share what my sister refers to as “Spock eyebrows” and I lovingly call “mad scientist eyebrows” that we must have inherited from our Niedzialkowski ancestors. Sure enough, a photograph of me with my three Niedzialkowski uncles shows that the four of us have the same eyebrows.

My older sister inherited her hair color, eye color, and nose from our mother. More than that, she inherited our mother’s predisposition for organization and orderliness.

While growing up, our family’s house was always clean and neat, with the possible exception of my bedroom which, after a certain point in time, my mother declared a disaster zone. My older sister’s house is likewise neat and clean, except after the grandkids have been to visit. We won’t even discuss the office in my home.

My older sister is calm, flexible, and friendly. She will go out of her way to help others and, for many years, was the primary caregiver for our Aunt Helen. She probably inherited those traits from my father who knows half the people in town and, at the drop of a hat, will strike up a conversation with complete strangers. My younger sister and I are a bit more tightly wound, but we’ve mellowed with age.

The one behavioral tendency that I’ve seen in many family members is an attention to detail. Certainly, my parents, my sisters and I all share an attention to detail, a trait that proves useful in researching family history. Even beyond my immediate family, many of my uncles, aunts, and cousins also share this trait. I don’t know if this attention to detail is inherited or if it’s a learned behavior, but it’s the one trait I’ve clearly noticed is common among my relatives.

Written for the Carnival of Genealogy.

Copyright © 2008 Stephen J. Danko

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3 Responses to The Man with the Mad Scientist Eyebrows

  1. Steve, this is an interesting comparion of traits among your family members. Great food for thought.

  2. Janice Brown says:


    My theory is that the milkman brought you (grin – j/k)


  3. Diana Thornton says:

    While some say that traits are simply learned, it doesn’t account for families whose members were separated very early and upon reuniting decades later find that they share many personal quirks and fates. I personally believe that genetics plays the main role in the development of personality and behavioral traits.

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