Mom’s side of the family hailed from England and Germany. Two lines, straight back. Dad’s lineage was a bit more of a wandering trail. Rumor has it there’s French and Cherokee back there, but an infamous Oklahoma courthouse fire destroyed the proof.

My grandfather, on my mother’s side, was pure German. He was tall, with high cheekbones, and always fair and honest to a fault, but he didn’t cotton to much silliness. A teacher, then a lawyer, then a dairy farmer, his sense of humor was buried pretty deep. So it was always a surprise when he got one over on me.

“Where’d you get those freckles?” he asked me one summer day when the reflection off the river had spotted up my face pretty good.

I looked over at my father, whose face was mottled just like mine. It seemed obvious where I’d gotten my coloring, but I answered what my mother had taught me to answer when classmates teased me about them. “They’re angel kisses,” I replied.

“Angel kisses?!” he guffawed. Then wryly he continued, “looks to me more like you walked too close behind the cow!”

I’ve never forgiven him for that image.