Re-acquainted

hydrangeainstax

Well hello :-).

Yes it’s been awhile, shall we sit and have tea and catch up?

How are you? How is your summer so far? And your family?

Me? I’m doing pretty well and yes I had a good birthday. 43 has been a breeze so far. We returned recently from visiting my grandmother in Ohio last week. She turned 94! She is still so sharp and her memory astounds me. We worked the crossword in the newspaper together everyday I was there, I loved that.

Seeing her moved something in me, and I wish I could say it was all sweet and nostalgic, but it wasn’t. With the visit came an uncomfortable glimpse into the future none want to ponder too long– the reality of life in old age, of loss in body and independence, of wisdom gained, yes, but not without a few footprints of sadness and regret. Seeing her made me think about the life I wanted to have, or even more important, the outlook on life I wanted to have, if I were to ever make it to 94.

ohiofield

We talked a lot together Grandma and me. She mostly talked of the past, what happened to who and when. When she talked about my dad or my grandfather, my ears prickled with interest to the things I never knew about them. Like when my dad went to sleepaway camp when he was 12, and though he wanted to come home after two days, Grandma said “try one more day” and in the end he was so glad he stayed. She talked about taking the train to Chicago in 1944 to visit my grandfather after he finished boot camp, how the train was so crowded that people had to sit on their suitcases in the aisles.

We visited the lake house she lived in nearly her entire life, the lake house her father built, the lake house that my parents, brother and I would visit on the weekends for family bbqs, fishing, and firefly catching. Though she no longer owns the house, she checked on all the flowers she and her sister had planted, the clematis, the peonies, and the irises, as if they were still hers. She found them to be somewhat neglected, but still alive and carrying on. We later found an empty bird’s nest on the ground underneath an oak tree she had planted years ago, and in that moment, I couldn’t help but feel the congruity of it all.

emptynest

dock

I know it’s cliché but I do feel like a child again when I am around her. She is always teaching me, recounting what it was like growing up in the Depression, the war, battling 3 cancers (and winning), losing loved ones like a husband and son, and what it’s like growing old. She is patient with my questions fielding them the same way she did when I was 10 years old, assuaging my curiosity and forever being my teacher.

I do believe the one precious gift we can give our older generation, the thing that helps make the life they’ve lived and ultimately their life in old age worth it all, is the opportunity and time to share their stories, their truths. And in return what we receive is a gentle, quiet hope that aging is something we can do, can manage, can accept, because it’s our own stories that will carry us through to the end.

much love to you

xoxo

10 thoughts on “Re-acquainted

  1. I loved sitting with my grandparents, listening to the story of their lives and hearing the tales my parents never shared with me about their childhood. I have one grandparent left, that I have not seen in a while, time for a visit I think. Thanks for sharing your visit and for inspiring me to plan a visit with my grandmother. xo

  2. I have been lucky enough to have had spent time with both sets of grandparents and continue to spend as much time with my maternal grandparents. It is interesting to see how they age and their relationship with one another continue to grow and change. My grandma has become feisty with (at times) no filter. And my grandfather has begun goading her feisty behavior along. Thank you for sharing, so glad that you had a beautiful time! xoxo

  3. what a lovely post. I wish I had that kind of connection to someone in my family or to a place. as to thoughts on aging and regret, I hear you. welcome back xoxo

  4. I’m so glad you had that time with your Grandmother MJ. My Pappaw turned 96 on May first and I don’t know what I would do without him. It’s so sad to me that so many don’t have the connection with grandparents that there use to be before travel became so easy. I grew up flying to MS every summer to spend with my grandparents, but it was so different from how my parent’s were raised with grandparents in the same town. They are called ‘grand’ parents for a reason.

  5. I now miss my gram. Lovely post and I agree as we age the closer we get to “older” the scarier it is, but remember when you were 18 and 40 was super old? And we couldn’t imagine it and life was over? So maybe getting to our eighties won’t be so bad as we imagine. Fingers crossed. Lovely photos from your trip! Your grandmother sounds like a wonderful person!

    • Hi Karen!! I don’t know, I don’t think I thought about age too much when I was younger except in terms of milestones: driving, graduating, getting married, having children. 40 now feels young to me and maybe part of that has to do with listening to our elders. I realize there is so much yet to be lived. I also realize how easy we have had it compared to what they lived through. I think what I fear the most about aging though is getting sick or being alone, but I also understand that age may not even have to play a role in those two things :-). xoxo.

  6. star-boy and i visit my grandparents (his greats!) every Wednesday and my favourite thing is to hear the stories from Before. i love hearing how life was for my Nanna, growing up in the Lake District in England and how my Grandad and his brothers shared one pair of football boots and stole potatoes out of the farmer’s fields for “campfires” <— they would dig up the potatoes and then put the plant back in the ground! simpler times — much harder in many ways — but so many lessons for us in them. the Elders have so very much to offer us in their memories and their experiences, i am so blessed to have mine – hale and hearty – and that my kids have their great-grandparents too…

    much love to you, MJ…it's so good to read your words. xoxox

    • Hi Mel, Wow, I loved reading your comment and a pinch of the stories your grandparents share!! You know, I was thinking yesterday. As wonderful as it is to have stories from our own grandparents, it doesn’t even have to be our own grandparents does it? There are loads of old storytellers and teachers out there that pass by us on the streets, in the stores, unseen and unappreciated. In high school I remember we had assignment to find and interview WWII veterans and write about it. To this day is was one of the most memorable and moving assignments I had ever had. Anyway, I ramble. Hugs Mel, xxxooo

  7. Very wise and insightful advice. I remember taking for granted the presence of my grandparents in my life, until one was no longer there. It was then that I received the wake up call to make up for lost time. Sitting down with my grandparents, talking with them about what life was like in the past, was not only nostalgic, it reminded me of how we can truly live with so much less than we think. And in some sense, we can live more fully. My opportunity to speak to any of my grandparents has now passed, a sobering realization when I remember all the nuggets of wisdom passed on to my generation through them. We all want to be heard, to share our stories. And it certainly is good to be on the receiving end of that wisdom told through the stories of generations past. Thanks for sharing MJ and best wishes for an inspired day ;-)

    • “We can truly live with so much less than we think.” Love that Dave. Thanks for sharing your own valuable stories and insights, here and of course on your blog :-).

I love your comments! Thank you so much for taking the time :).

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