Family legend talks about the day my father told me that my mother had given birth to twin sisters. I burst into tears and said that I already had too many sisters and begged him to send them back for a little brother.
Apparently his response has gotten lost in the sands of time but I imagine that it didn’t contain any sort of apology nor should it have. And there you have yet another public acknowledgement that my father was right and I was wrong. Mark it carefully, I don’t like saying such things out loud. It is not because I don’t respect my father because I do. The man deserves far more accolades and compliments than he gets, but the last thing I need is to add fuel to his fire because the men in this family have plenty.
Yesterday we engaged in the ordinary but created some extraordinary out of it. One of the twins is getting married and the menfolk had to get fitted for our tuxedos. So my son and I hopped in the car and headed out to meet my dad and grandfather at the tux shop so that they
could tell me to lose some weight measure us for the penguin suits we are going to wear at the wedding.
I am sorry to say that I was slow to recognize the importance of the day. It is fair to say that at the moment life is filled with an extra amount of tumult and turmoil so I have been more focused on trying to sail my ship safely past the rocks and reefs. My bank account is a bit thin so I am loathe to lose a ship as I can’t say when or how I will replace it.
So when my son and I walked in the shop I was far more interested in getting it over with than in enjoying the moment. But seeing my grandfather helped snap me back into place. He was sitting on his walker lost in thought about time and places long since past or so I imagine. I suspect that what he was thinking about was my grandma. He talks to me about her quite often and I do what I can to listen and help. I don’t think that he is aware of how he cries when he talks about her or how hard it is sometimes is to not be able to do more to ease his pain.
In one capacity or another they were together for 85 years- that truly is a lifetime so there really isn’t much that I can do beyond listen to him speak. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind it. The only thing that bothers me is that I can’t do more to help.
But yesterday I did have one secret weapon, a great-grandson and he is able to bring about a different sort of smile than I can. I like to stand back and watch them interact together. It has been one of the great pleasures and privileges of my life to do so. I have watched my grandparents hold my babies and then watched as the babies grew into little people.
Yesterday as I helped my son into his tuxedo I had a flashback to the last family wedding and that is when it hit me. Eight years ago the 2.5 year old boy who once was told me that he wouldn’t put on his tuxedo. Eight years ago four grandparents walked down the aisle and helped celebrate the wedding of a granddaughter. That 2.5 year old boy only had two first cousins and hadn’t yet learned what it meant to have a little sister.
The coming wedding will still be filled a lot of love, joy and laughter but there is going to be three big holes. Three people who were enormous influences on my siblings and I are gone. It is not unexpected or unusual but I would be lying if I didn’t say that it feel a bit surreal to me.
Yesterday grandpa told me that he is going to tell grandma about the wedding and that he is really looking forward to it and I believe him. But the rules of the blog dictate brutal honesty and that requires that I acknowledge that the light behind his eyes has dimmed a little bit.
We had a few moments alone, grandpa and I and he told me a few more stories about him and grandma. I knew them all but still enjoyed listening to them anyway. Just before he finished speaking he looked at me and told me that grandma really knew how to make him smile. I smiled at him and said that something told me that grandma wouldn’t like him telling those stories about her. He chuckled and and with a smile that kept growing bigger said, “there is a lot that you don’t know about your grandmother.”
I knew better than to ask what that meant, some stories are best left between those who experienced them.
Later on I looked at my son and marveled at how that tuxedo made him look a little bit older and a little bit taller. If I didn’t know better I would say that for a brief moment I was given a glimpse of the man he is going to one day become.Or maybe that was just the overactive imagination of a man who throughout the day kept slipping between grandson, son and father.
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,”
As You Like It- Shakespeare