Saturday, December 31, 2011

Missing things I never had ...

I'm half Greek.  I know, I'm blond, but so were the "fair haired Achaeans."  I have a grandfather and a grandmother who were both born in Asia Minor.  But my mother was estranged from her family, something with her dropping out of college and catching a train to run off to California to marry my father.  I met my grandparents only once.  My uncle died young, I only met one aunt through letters, the other once when they were in New York.

My father was in the U.S. Air Force.  We traveled a great deal.  My brothers and sister had some time in California where they were able to meet other family members (such as my great aunt who was like a second mother to my parents), I only got to meet my aunt and uncle (it is from my catholic Aunt Mary that I have such fondness for Catholics).

My grandfather traveled a good deal, even after he was retired and sent home to die.  He thought he would make the most of it until death took him.  He later told my brother if he had realized he wasn't going to die shortly, he would have made a second career of the time he ended up having left.

We saw them on occasional holidays, but usually we were out of reach due to time and distance, as were they.  I remember visiting them fondly, and writing back and forth, but my grandfather's greatest professional strength was also one that led to problems in prolonging discourse.  He could not express himself directly.  To learn what he thought you would answer his questions, what you believed afterwards was probably close to his opinion.  If you lacked the base knowledge to work with, he had a very difficult time communicating, even the simplest of things.

I read posts and remembrances, such as and I miss having a culture.  My mom quit speaking Greek for World War II as part of being "American."  She never spoke it with us.  My dad taught us "oh, you were born in a boat" but then thought better of teaching us more Greek.

"Home" was southern California of my father's youth and the beaches.  His dream was to retire to the empty high desert of his childhood days when he found freedom and emptiness there.  So he retired to Lancaster, which had over a hundred thousand people and was not that empty.  His post Air Force employment was disrupted as the Air Force refused to let him retire on schedule, and he ended up working for government contractors.

That meant my parents could not attend my wedding (unable to get exist visas).

He and my mom then started serving missions.  So, they made one funeral, missed others.

We had them briefly, living down the street from us in a home we helped refurbish, but my father was in the end game of Parkinson's' Disease then.  I had time with him, as I would help him exit the bath (he could not do it himself and my mom was not strong enough), and as we talked some, but it was not time with him fully present.

My mom could not take living in the house after he died, and so sold it and moved.  Now she is serving another mission.  Worked through some phone problems, now we can talk from time to time.

But my children do not have the same grandparent experiences.  Myself, I feel such a void where my grandparents should have been.  I feel I have a heritage, but all that I have from it is short height and strong calves. 

So, on this New Year's Eve, I find myself missing things that I never had, but missing them anyway and in a way, missing myself.


sb said...

I like what you said. I find that I miss myself. It seems that for so long I have been "coping" that I am quite certain I would not recognize myself if I bumped into me.

I especially miss not knowing who I was.

How does this happen?

Stephen said...

Wish I knew, then I would be who I was.