I made the arduous trek up the street (all 3 minutes of that l-o-n-g drive) to visit my grandparents this evening. We’ve always lived near my grandparent’s, and I was very close to them while growing up. Granda was always out on the farm with dad, even when he shouldn’t have been. I still have vivid memories of watching him tip the tractor over one year, and crawl out with a broken arm – all while already in his 70’s!
Grandma often looked after us during the summer holidays and after school – treating us to all the things grandparents do. Animal bars and Creamola Foam and jelly straight from the packet. Things you’re parent’s are far too sensible to ever indulge you with.
We slowly grew apart as I got older, and since moving to Glasgow I obviously see them a lot less now. It get’s harder each time to talk with them, and I find myself shying away from it, rather than sitting with them and finding mutually acceptable conversation topics. Tonights ditties on dog euthanasia, Haiti, and marriage among others covered a vast array of interesting opinions.
As I’ve been on this journey of discovering and exploring all the ways story shapes us, I’ve been contemplating what that looks like in families. What it might look like in my family.
My grandparents have their stories. Stories I know nothing of.
Ten minutes after I arrived (unannounced, I might add), my grandparents had (planned) visitors arrive. It was fascinating to watch how the conversations unfolded. Two elderly couples sitting around a fire, with me acting almost as a fly on the wall. I didn’t know most of the people or events they were talking about, but they had an understanding with each other that showed they did.
Sweltering from the heat of the blazing fire, and I noticed two things in particular.
One: Almost without exception, every conversation was framed around a person they knew, a specific relationship. This person’s granddaughter now works here; this mans father passed away; this woman’s dog disturbed the sheep. Perhaps as we age we will gain a greater sense of community, or perhaps it’s growing up in a rural community where everybody knows everyone and everything. Sometimes good, sometimes frustrating.
Two: The stories didn’t resolve. There wasn’t always a clear ending, or even a comma, in many of their anecdotes. Again, I wonder if this is something that we become more comfortable with over time, or is it a memory loss issue?!
Either way, those two observations are leading me to desire a greater ability to sit & learn from my elders. Remember, we’ll need people with grey hair and white hair and no hair at all.
I want to get better at learning to sit in the silence with them, waiting for the right words, or simply embracing the quiet with them.