I knew I wanted to participate in Dana’s “Who I Am” prompt for the month but I had nothing to say..yet. Sometimes that means nothing to say for right now, or ever. Mostly that means it will all come about the way it wants. I looked first to the photos I was catching up on – from exactly a year ago now. The photos are about one set of the kids’ grandparents.
I checked my overlying emotions, feelings and sensations. Sore from Pure Barre. Sick and tired of winter. Happy and inspired too. Scared as well. Why? Why not? I’m tackling fears left and right and taking baby steps out of my comfort zone, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think about how easy it is to feel the loss of control. The kids are going away for three nights tomorrow, to stay at yet another set of grandparent’s house. Three nights is long for a three-year-old. I’m thinking he’ll be fine. Will I?
February’s prompt is what you may expect from this month: LOVE. More specifically, tell a piece of your story regarding people in your life who you love and who love you. This is the one prompt this year that will focus on the people in our lives, so your options are endless. We will revisit your love of things and places later in the year; this month is about relationships.
That’s when I knew. Grandparents. What a source of love and stress in my life. It’s a good stress, but it’s still a stress, because my kids have six great ones. I always wonder if I could freeze time, would I want it to be around now? With two kids of memory-making ages, and six active, youthful grandparents? Oh yeah, and my kids have two active, youthful parents.
So, yes. There’s stress. There’s good stress where there’s love, because I’m never going to reach a point in which I’m not fiercely (and strangely silently/aloofly) wanting everyone to remain as they are – with all their faculties intact. (I think?) On upwards trajectories. Finding passions and paths. Figuring stuff out. Traveling, I hope. Building. Loving. LIVING. Giving?
And it’s just so good. Oh, so good. I still get nervous about the kids leaving tomorrow. I seem to get PTSD from my own experiences visiting grandparents as a kid. It was hard for me, as a kid of loss, to leave my one remaining parent. It was downright cruel, if you asked me then. I remind myself every day that they aren’t me. They aren’t me. They aren’t me.
Kids, I’m talking to you now. In my own words and from the heart, and not necessarily from correct historical standpoints. That should happen too, with research. Your great-grandparents led fascinating lives, all of them. Some are still alive today:
My father’s mother: I still have grief as big as an ocean for her. And you are named for her, Scarlet Bella. It’s hard to start, and not stop with Grandma Bella. She was the quintessential grandmother, though. She was funny and hungry, for life, and for rainbow sprinkles too. (that’s where we get it) Every wonderful grandmother on TV reminds me of her. Warm, loving and open, but with a closed side too. The inner pain. We all have it. It takes a strength to hide it and a strength to reveal it.
She passed away during the last day of my finals, first semester of my senior year of college. Her funeral was on a dry and sunny December day. Dry and sunny. December. During the ceremony, someone interrupted the Rabbi and told us all to look up in the sky. There was a double rainbow directly above us. We all saw it. One of the rainbows was vivid and one was faded. I had never seen a rainbow, much less a double rainbow, on a dry and sunny day in December. And I haven’t since.
A few years later, I was telling my co-worker the story. On a dry and sunny day in April. I walked out of my office for the day, looked up in the sky and saw a double rainbow. One was vivid and one was faded. I freaked out and ran back in to show him. He was flabbergasted. Oddly, this job was not at all far from the cemetery where my grandparents and father are buried.
My mother’s mother: Nana Jane lived to 100, which is nearly all you need to know about her! She didn’t just live, she lived on her own terms. She epitomized grace and dignity. Another thing that’s the only thing you need to know about her to know everything about her? She was still ordering her meals (& desserts) up until her death. She probably missed a few meals she had wanted. She read ahead with books sometimes, to know what happened at the end, and maybe to know it was all ok. I’ve never met someone with more of a passion for reading, so when she lost so much sight and sound, she had to make do. She did make do. She had a sweet tooth that is unmatched by anyone I know. Except maybe your Nana. And me. And you, Scarlet.
My father’s father: Grandpa Ben, of sound mind, sarcastic humor, and slipping kid-sized packs of M&Ms into our hands. He was known for speeding down the highway towards the beach, watching Grease (embarrassing!) with his granddaughters, and just being someone I wish I had known better as an adult. I think we would have been good friends. He has war stories, of which I’ve only heard a little, and an entire life I’d love to uncover more about. Perhaps that’s something I can still do.
My mother’s father: He also lived to 100, which shows you much about him! Being active helps a lot. He also kept his brain engaged until his 90’s – creating the kind of art that Rosie O’Donnell brought onto the Martha Stewart show. Perhaps I’ll let you two kids watch a video clip soon. He was one of a kind. I think he was a tougher father than he was grandfather. He tried really hard to make us happy. It worked. Des, you look like his clone. When I show people photos of him at your age?
Poppa Don’s mother: Grandma Helen is still alive. She is STRONG. Strong-willed. Strong voice. Strong opinions. Just strong. You have been lucky enough to meet her. Let yourself be inspired by everything she is and has been. She’s also the best cook of the bunch. Her food has been the stuff of dreams for decades. She has two kids, ten thousand grandkids, and 100,000 great-grandkids. Slight exaggeration, but you get the point. And she took me to see Who Framed Roger Rabbit in the theater!
Poppa Don’s father: Poppa Joe is literally the nicest person on the planet. I mean that. Generous and loving and pretty much the perfect Jewish grandfather. Every now and then I call him, which should be more often, and he’ll spout endless wisdom and love. I hope to be like that someday. Always growing, in the upwards direction.
Poppa Don’s first wife’s mother: Gran. Edith. She was something else entirely. I wasn’t as close with her as my three siblings were, but she also had the longevity/strength thing down pat. She passed away recently, but had a lot of love.
The “Who I Am” Project belongs to my friend and fellow blogger, Dana. It’s a way to create a virtual scrapbook of your life to tell your loved ones. It’s a year-long monthly series that goes live the third Tuesday of the month, and each topic will explore a piece of your story. By the end of 2016, you can expect to have written a record to pass on to the people in your life. You can include photos (of course I will) but this is mostly about words. You can link up once, twice, six times, or 12. You can do it on your own on a private file on your computer if you’re no blogger. Accessibility and levels of sharing are up to you.