Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Just a Picture in a Photo Album

I met my new granddaughter yesterday.  She is beautiful and appears to be fully equipped to start her journey through life.  I am already grandfather to two boys, who are also wonderful, but it got me thinking a little.  By the time I became cognizant of life both of my grandfather’s were already dead.  My fraternal grandfather died just weeks before my birth and my maternal grandfather died about a year and a half later.  To me they have always been just pictures in a photo album.  There is no way to know or appreciate dead people, and when they are part of the genetic mix that is you it’s an irreplaceable loss.

Because of distance, and family discord it was impossible for me and my siblings to know our grandmothers very well either.  As I look around and think back it occurs to me that nothing is or can be as valuable to a human being as a stable extended family.  This includes the crazy uncles and aunts, the wacky granddads, and loving grannys.  The ability to see where one’s origins lie, in person, must be a great experience.

My wife and I see our role as grandparents being stress relieve valves for the parents of our grandchildren, and the grandchildren themselves.  I doubt very seriously that, if we can maintain our relationship with these children, that they will turn out to be problem adults; it’s possible but not likely.  Our children still have one set of grandparents living; they lost completely the chance to have a relationship with their maternal grandfather, but did know their grandmother.  These experiences, both happy and sad, have shaped their perspective on life in positive ways.  They are really fine people, and so will their children be.

Society needs families as much or more than families need families.  Children and adults need a safe haven for tough times. It is not easy to maintain healthy family relationships; the slightest blow can disturb the balance for years.  Any family that has weathered the storms of life is to be admired.

I am very happy that for my grandchildren I won’t be just a picture in a photo album.

No comments: