Nice to Know Your Grandparents
Hello and good day!
You know something? It is a nice thing to know your grandparents.
I barely knew mine.
My kids are lucky in that regard. They know their grandparents well, although my wife's mother passed young, so they never got to meet her.Her name was Soledad, which I think is such a beautiful name.
We have three sons, but if we would have had daughter, I would have wanted to name her Soledad.
My grandpa on my mom's side was a rambling man who had 4 children with three women. At least, that is all we know about. Maybe there are more. These four siblings have an amazing story. They managed to track each other down later in life. They never knew each other growing up. One was in New York. The others were in California.
My grandpa Mike, short for Myron, committed suicide when I was a little boy. The only memory I have of him was going to his apartment one afternoon. It was run down and smelled of stale tobacco. He had a box full of donuts there. But they were stale too. He smoked cigarettes out of one of those long, FDR style cigarette holders.There was a pot of cold noodles on the stove.
I ate an old donut and a plate of cold noodles.He sat on an old recliner smoking a cigarette out of a long cigarette holder. We watched TV together for several hours and that was that.You know something? I liked him. He was my grandpa.
Later, I learn about his transgressions and that took some shine off his reputation in my mind. Not that his reputation was so stellar after the afternoon with old donuts, but still, I liked him that afternoon. I have one possession that belonged to my grandpa Mike. It is an old book of jokes that is torn apart at the binding. The pages are spilling out of the book, and it is very delicate to pick up and read. But I've read it, and I value it. For better or worse, I come from that man.
My other grandpa, Vic, died when my dad was only 4 years old. My dad never really even knew him, except through family lore. He was a successful entrepreneur and the savior of his family. He and 7 siblings grew up in destitution. Their father was an alcoholic.
It was Vic who went out into the world and made something of himself, and he used his money to help his brothers make something out of themselves as well It would have been very good to know that man. But he died of Hodgkins Disease.
My grandma Sybil, my mom's mom, I only knew briefly. She died when I was just a little boy.
My brother knew her well. She was manic depressive, which led to some severe ups and downs. However, on the whole, she was a brilliant woman. She raised two kids as a single mother. She put food on the table as an executive secretary for big shot businessmen. She was a writer and an actress as well. It would have been good for me to know her better.
My grandma on my dad's side remarried after Vic died. 4 years later, she married a guy named Bob Pearson. My last name is Pearson now because the fellow Bob Pearson changed my dad's last name, even though Vic's family deeply did not want him to do that. But he did it anyways.
If it wasn't for that, my last name would be Wick, not Pearson.
Valore was my dad's mom. She ran a chain of restaurants called Vic's Diners in Fort Wayne, Indiana with her husband Victor Wick. When Vic died, she kept running those restaurants herself for another 4 years, before she married Bob Pearson.
Bob was a hard man and he pressured her into giving up her work to become a homemaker. My understanding is that Valore was a fiery strong-willed woman, a business owner, a boss. But Bob broke her down over the years.
My dad's sister Connie was valedictorian of her high school class and wanted to go to college. Bob opposed that because he thought it was silly for a girl to get a college degree. She was just going to get married someday and settle down anyway, so what was the point?
Valore had one last fight in her. She told Bob that if he didn't pay for Connie's schooling, she'd get a job and pay for it herself. Bob hated that idea. His wife working? What would the men around town think? Couldn't Bob keep his woman in line?
But Bob was a hard man and he thought Valore was bluffing. He said that he wasn't paying for Connie to go to college, and he prohibited Valore from getting a job. That was on a Friday. By Monday, Valore had a job and she paid Connie's way through college for the next 4 years.
Valore and Bob moved to Florida from Indiana when I was young, and I grew up in San Diego. Valore didn't pass until I was a teenager, but because of the distance, I didn't see her too often. I regret that.
I've been thinking about why grandparents are so important. Here is what I think.
Parents haven't gone through a full cycle yet. They are mid cycle when their kids are born. They don't know how the thing plays out. Their wisdom is not fully formed. Grandparents have done the whole thing already.
They've raised a child to adulthood. They've lived more life. Their wisdom is more mature. It is more appropriate for a grandparent to advise a child on issues of morality and perspective. hey are more prepared for the job. They have the proper tools.
To grow up without grandparents means growing up with an important wisdom gap. Parents simply are not wise enough yet. I believe that. They are just starting to figure themselves out.
For lack of a better word, a good grandparent can give a kid more spirituality, a deep understanding of what it all means, what this whole thing we call life is all about.
In other countries, Peru for example, grandparents tend to live in the house with their kids and grandkids. Houses are multi-generational.
But here in the US, kids tend to leave their hometown and wander, causing separation. That being the case, American parents have to work extra hard to make sure that kids have contact with their grandparents. I very much believe it is worth the effort.
If I could grab one more conversation with Mike, Vic, Valore, or Sybil, it would mean the world to me. If you are a grandparent, please make sure to share a lot of wisdom with your grandkids. They may not realize how important it is right now, but later on they will.
And parents, make sure your kids know their grandparents. It will give them a huge wisdom advantage in life. I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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