As I sit inside my house with electricity flowing through outlets and my children beside me entertaining themselves with their Wii, it's hard to believe that my great grandparents didn't have all the conveniences that I enjoy. I can't imagine a world without the internet anymore... even though I lived in that world. Half of my days are spent interacting with people through technology of some way. My husband makes his living working with technology. Life is no longer simple. Nothing is free. I find myself thinking of those that were here before. They were happy with all this.
They had stories... amazing stories of their lives that will never be heard. Some were not always happy stories. I know in the last years of his life, my great grandfather had a "girlfriend." It's not for me to judge but I wonder what drove him to that. He once built an entire two story house by hand for him and his sweetheart to live in. She lived for such a short time after him... and I know she loved him.
My Grandpa Sam died just before my T was born. I couldn't go to the funeral because I'd been on bed rest with preterm labor for so long. T was born with an old soul... and I feel some parts of his personality belong to my Grandpa Sam... even though Sam wasn't even a blood relative of mine. Grandpa Sam was so gruff with his gravelly voice and huge biceps. He and my grandma used to argue and then he'd wink at us or smile whenever she'd turn her back. It was all a big show. He was a total marshmallow on the inside. He was gone so fast. A routine surgery that he never recovered from. My husband never met him. My daughter never met him. He called all my boyfriends from names other than their own. Mostly it was "George" and "Julio" and silly names... but he acted like no one would ever be good enough for me. He made friends where ever he went. Young and old. He was always out chatting with someone. I miss him at least once a week. I think of him frequently. I know wherever he is right now... he's making friends, though.
My grandparents that are still alive--many have failing health. I'm getting to that age when having grandparents isn't likely for much longer. Mortality is a fleeting thing. I love them all.
From my Grandpa Al, I've learned to appreciate nature and a quiet day in a green garden... and that Mexican food is awesome. Grandpa always takes us out to dinner when we're around and I learned to love food and experienced a vast array of food from him.
From my Grandma Gaybrielle, I've learned that exercise keeps you young and happy longer. That a long walk that ends in a beach is a beautiful thing. I've learned to appreciate fresh fruits.
From my Grandma Clarice, I've learned that strength of character and independence can be feminine. I've learned to love cooking. I've learned that love takes many forms and isn't obvious though it's still there. I've grown to appreciate sarcasm from her. (I love sarcasm.) I love sitting and chatting with her until the wee hours of the night. Her opinions are so sincere and she can be so vehement. She's always seemed so full of life. It's hard to imagine her as older. She misses Grandpa Sam so much. It's both beautiful and sad.
From my Grandma Joy, I've learned that life does not always have to be a certain way for it to be good. I've learned to smile and have a sense of humor. I've learned that you never stop being a mother... as she agonizes over her children even today. I've learned that no one is ever forgotten... ever. I've learned the value of an education. She loves learning.
From my Grandpa Wayne, I've learned that the unexpected can be hilarious. He built milk jug bombs and was always experimenting with things. Some things... were not good... like the banana bread with lettuce in it. Some things were odd like the roadkill squirrel he tricked me into eating. He loves life, though. He loves to play his harmonica and see the joy on kids' face.
Love is complex. Living is a luxury. I learned so much about being an adult and loving others from my grandparents and great grandparents. I am who I am because of who they were and how they treated me. I've been lucky to be respected and loved my whole life. I'm the product of many generations of love and understanding. I don't know what it's like not to be loved. I hope that I'm continuing that pattern with my own children. Everyone deserves to be loved and loved well.
Happy Memorial Day. I miss you, Grandpa Sam.