Four Generations & A Wedding

Tuxedo Shirt 6-10-08 -- IMG_0615

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

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  1. TheJackB July 12, 2011 at 12:32 am

    @marianne.worley I am working on teaching them to appreciate it now. I am ever so grateful for this time. I was lucky enough to know three great grandparents of my own. Family important- I keep drilling that in their heads.

  2. marianne.worley July 11, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    Another powerful story that reminds me to be thankful that I was born 6 years before my Grandpa died. I’m the only grandchild that actually knew him and spent time with him, and most importantly, can remember him. And it makes my heart ache that my nephews will never be able to spend time with their Grandpa because we lost my Dad so early. Your son (and your daughter) will appreciate those moments someday.

  3. columbiarose July 11, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    I’m sure your grandmother is right there with your grandfather, right over his shoulder, and she’ll be there until it’s his time.My great grandparents came to the US to escape the war in Europe. They named their first baby born on US soil Liberty, and I was born on Liberty’s birthday, which I always thought was cool.

    I had to wait through four little brothers to get a sister, and two of my brothers are twins.I love weddings—hope, faith in the future, two people who said yes to commitment and to each other, and the fancy clothes, flowers, music and laughter, and a high probability of chocolate.Do take lots of four-generation pictures while you can. It’s going to be more and more rare with the trend of people having their babies later in life.

  4. TheJackB July 11, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    @Kristen @ Motherese Thanks Kristen. When he was born he had 5 great grandparents. He is slowly beginning to understand how special/lucky that was.

    We are really looking forward to celebrating. Even though we are short some people it will still be great.

  5. mothereseblog July 11, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    What a beautiful story, and so well told. What a remarkable thing for your son to know his great-grandfather, and for your grandfather to spend time with his great-grandson.

    I hope that the coming wedding is filled with joy and promise, even as you miss the three grandparents that won’t be there in person to celebrate with you.

  6. KDillabough July 11, 2011 at 6:40 am

    @TheJackB Not garbled: genuine and beautifully told.

  7. TheJackB July 11, 2011 at 6:36 am

    @KDillabough Hi Kaarina, thank you so much for your kind words. This is one of those posts where it is so close to home that my perspective is lacking. I was concerned that it is garbled.

    I am very grateful to have had this time with my family and only wish to be able to cherish and appreciate it. Sometimes we forget how lucky we are.

  8. KDillabough July 11, 2011 at 6:12 am

    Jack, you entwined me so much into your story that I felt like I was there. And I know I’m not supposed to shed tears on the blogosphere, but I must admit to a welling up that made my chest want to burst. How poignant…a beautifully told story that painted a beautiful picture. The glimpse you were given is a treasure, and a snapshot that even I could envision.

    Thanks Jack: you are a true storyteller. Kaarina

  9. TheJackB July 10, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    @SeattleDad Hey James. I hope that you had a a great weekend full of superheroes and fun. I am just speculating about the superheroes. Anyway, the four generations is something that is quite special to me.

    Now that my son is 10.5 I suspect he is starting to gain a better grasp of just how unusual that is and why he needs to cherish it.

  10. SeattleDad July 10, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Liked this a lot Jack. Thanks for sharing. I imagine it was quite an experience to have all the menfolk together, evenfor a short time. 4 generations? You don’t get that opportunity all that often.

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