If you go back to my grandparents, however, they all had big families and many siblings. I've met some of them, but not all, as they are fairly well-dispersed across the country. Today, my grandmother invited me over to dinner, where I met family I've never met before, my great aunt Peggy, my maternal grandfather's sister, and her husband, my great uncle Bill.
Now that I'm getting older, I have a much deeper respect for these people and their histories and how much they impact my own. It also had a very profound impact on me to meet the people who knew my grandparents when they were young.
It found it so touching to me to hear my aunt Peggy call my grandmother and grandfather, "Jimmy" and "Joanie," clearly personal names associated with their youths. While I know, of course, that my grandparents were young once, hearing these names and the stories in which they reference these names, makes them seem like lively young people just weathered by time--no different in character than they might have been when they were my age. My grandmother apparently made apple pies the same way she did when she and granddaddy were first married. She was also really claustrophobic. Things I never would have learned were it not for my new-found relatives to share with me.
I also found myself deeply engaged in the stories that aunt Peggy had to say about my grandfather as a brother--a role I had never connected him to. Peggy painted him as a troublemaker and prankster, as well as a young man who looked out and cared for a younger sister. She remembered that someone put her bike up in a tree (Granddaddy: "I will not confirm nor deny that I did that") and that he calmed her fears during a really heavy storms.
I could really go on and on about the lessons I've learned from seeing my relatives interact with my grandparents on an intimate and knowing level. What I can confirm most is that I am indescribably blessed to have the family that I do, and that I hope to come across other relatives and friends who knew my parents and grandparents "when..." because it helps me understand who they were as well as putting into stunning relief the longevity, beauty and purpose of Family.
|L to R: Granddaddy "Jimmy", Grandma Gore "Joanie", Uncle Bill, Aunt Peggy, Me, Mom, Daddy|