Friday, February 26, 2010

The Miracle of Every Day

I'm going to break with tradition in this blog and go personal for an entry.  I had a timely experience that queued up in my mind something I felt ought to be communicated, and it just happened to be personal.  So there.

This morning I walked my kindergartener to school.  We had a conversation that went like this:

Son:  Mommy, I really wish I could have known my great, great, great, great grandfather.

Me:  I understand, but I didn't even know him.  He died before I was even born.  But I knew one of your great-grandfathers.  The one who was my father's father.  My mother's father had died before I was born.

Son:  Tell me about him.

Me:  Well, he lived in Russia and he came to America.  He married your great grandmother and they had four kids.  One was your grandfather.  He had the same name as you. 

Son:  I wish I had known your mommy and daddy.  What were they like?

Me:  I wish you had known them, too.  My mommy was such a wonderful person.  Everyone loved her.  I sometimes joked that my friends loved my mother more than they loved me.  She would have loved you so very much.  She was very loving.  She was kind to everyone she met, and she was kind to all living things.  She was also very smart.  You could ask her anything and she would know the answer, or know where to find it.  And she was very funny.  She made people laugh and enjoyed making them laugh.

Son:  What about your daddy?

Me:  He was very smart and loved his work.  He was very good at what he did; he was a scientist, a professor, a writer.  He taught me a lot.  He took me to his lab and I learned a lot just by watching him, so I was very good in science later on.  And he played ball, and card games and chess with me.  I don't think he remembered a lot about how to play with kids by the time I was old enough to want to play, but he tried.  And he came to my plays when I was acting in high school, and all my graduations.  And he wrote me letters when I was in college and law school.  He wasn't easy to be close to, but I know he loved me and he would have loved you.

Son:  I wish I could know them.

Me:  I wish you could, too.  You can't know them as living people, but I have videos of them and tapes of their voices, and pictures you can see.  And I can tell you about them. 

This is the hardest part of being an older parent.  Lack of grandparents.  This is the hardest part of being an outlier from the rest of the extended family.

What's the answer?  I don't think there is one.  And I'm sad about it, but I refuse to view myself as lacking as a parent somehow because of it.  I never knew one of my grandparents, and one died when I was one.  Even though the other two shared a good bit of my life span, they lived far away and I didn't see them much.  So if my kids only have a single living grandparent, and see her sporadically, it is what it is.  It is not optimal, but it is what it is.

But the miracle of every day life is that despite the lack of a continually or even frequently present extended family, my kindergartener is developing a sense of personal history.  He is becoming a person with a history, and that is, to me, miraculous.  May he have a grand and worthy history, that, as he comes to know it and to build it for himself, will serve him well.  I hope that thanks to his brother, he will always have stability and continuity in that history.  Having lost both parents prior to having my own kids, and having no siblings, it was very important to me that mine have at least one other person bound to them through immediate family ties that they could turn to, always.  And the bonus is, I'll have that, too.   



mamawhelming said...

Beautiful. Your sons are lucky to have such a thoughtful mother with a long view -- in both directions -- of personal and family history.

**Morgana** said...

Thank you, and sorry it took me so long to get this. I have allowed my blog to become moldy again. Dusting off some cobwebs today....