Sunday, April 27, 2008


My grandparents never expressed much interest in their five grandchildren after we were grown up. It was as if our fathers were part of their family, but we were not. Am I right about that? Do the others feel the same way? Or am I just projecting something? Maybe we were the ones who turned from them and not the other way around. Regardless, it was a healing thing to go to Grandpa’s funeral, to hear funny stories and positive things people said about him, to feel like I could still get to know him a bit better and to forgive what I hadn’t realized I’d held against him.

Was it for me, then, or for him, that tears came to my eyes at the card on one floral arrangement, “Healed at last by the Great Physician”? I'm glad that Someone is going to make things right, in the end, to bring healing and comfort and reconciliation and reunion where there has been pain and disappointment and brokenness and division - or just a vague sense that things should or could have been better.

How easy it is to have ideals for what family is supposed to be like, for the kind of family we want to be part of, and be disappointed when others do not make that happen for us. How much harder to consider and accept the role we play in that, and realize others may, as well, be looking at each of us through a lens of expectation. Or, they may have no expectation at all. I suppose some people never think about these things. Maybe they just accept things as they are.

Well, in addition to sorting out a bit of that, it was also valuable to me to look to the future, and to have enough time with aunts and uncles and cousins to feel like there’s a foundation for continued relationships even with the older generation gone. Three of my four first cousins on Dad’s side live in Florida, at least part of the time, and since I get down there sometimes now I’m hoping to organize a get-together. I don’t remember the last time I saw C. and D. (who didn’t come to the funeral). Until we spent time together this week, I think it had been 15 years since I saw M., although I always ask about her.

I do still have one great aunt, living, and she is getting pretty frail. One of her old classmates was at the funeral home at the same time she was and I was tickled to hear him tell her that their 70th high-school reunion was coming up and trying to persuade her to go. “I’m going to get Herman to come, too,” said Carl. “Well then,” said my aunt, who does not get out very much, “If you and Herman are going to be there, I really should go…” Apparently quite a few of the members of the class of ’38 are still around!

(Although I went through that rite of passage a good 50 years after my aunt, I am not in touch with any of my high school classmates. So, I will probably not attend any 20-year events that may be planned for this summer.)

Here’s another story. When Aunt A. was a girl – about five years before that ’38 graduation ceremony, I guess – she and her grandmother both became ill with scarlet fever. They were quarantined in an upstairs bedroom for six weeks. Can you imagine? One of the things they did during that time was to “piece” a quilt. It’s now in the keeping of cousin L. who is a professional artist and likes “old stuff.” She’s done several paintings which include the quarantine quilt. Isn't that something?

1 comment:

Megan Noel said...

i wrote a lot of letters to grandma, i think about weekly for many years, then a bit less often, until she died. i wish i had gotten to spend time with her more when i was older and had the patience to learn things from her that i am now learning on my own -- such as sewing and quilting. though she did teach me to crochet. i have the quilt she made for me out , though having been a child's bed quilt it has a lot of battle scars -- ink, a spot of blood probably from one of your nosebleeds, and some spots my hamster chewed :( well at least now i am old enough to appreciate the fine workmanship.