On Thursday, I became a grandmother — again. My daughter’s first child and my sixth grandchild arrived quickly while I, three states away, frantically booked a flight and drove to the airport knowing I would probably not make it in time. I have been present for three of my grandchildren’s births and there is an unreasonable part of me that wants to be present and an integral part of all my grandchildren’s lives.
Unreasonable because my children and grandchildren, are scattered throughout California, Texas, and Utah. Unreasonable because the very idea of close extended family seems to be as antiquated as horse drawn carriages. Unreasonable because my children’s and grandchildren’s lives are not about me or what I want — they have their own desires and their own paths to walk.
So, instead of weekends at Nana’s house, we have Facebook and Facetime, email and Twitter and instant messages, family connections reduced to “Likes” and “Comments” and “Shares.” I appreciate and make use of all technology has to offer; still, I can’t help feeling that our interactions are more shallow than I would like.
As I waited at the airport to board, I remembered my mother speaking with nostalgia about growing up in the midst of a large extended family, and lamenting the demise of big family gatherings. Finally, after a long day of travel (thank goodness we’re not still traveling by horse and buggy!) I arrived at the birthing center to give my daughter a kiss and peer into the sleepy eyes of the newest member of our family. She was warm and pink, exuding that indescribably musky-sweet newborn perfume; I put my face close to hers and inhaled deeply.
How my own infants could have grown and become parents themselves, and how I could now have six grandchildren, is a mystery to me, a source of wonder and astonishment. And so is our connection — a connection so earth-rooted and basic that it seems infused into my bone marrow.
I think about our future, this new little granddaughter and mine. Unless something changes, ours will be a relationship mostly defined by birthdays and Thanksgivings and Christmases — separated by a geological divide that may be unique to American culture. I might not have the opportunity to personally pass on my stories and life lessons to her or my other grandchildren.
I would like my children and grandchildren to know me, to understand the context in which I grew up, and perhaps as a result, to know a little more about themselves. Which is why it feels more important than ever to continue writing my life stories and experiences and reflections.
What about you? What of your life experiences and knowledge and wisdom do you want to pass along?
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