Growing our family tree
Early in my first pregnancy, my now-husband took me to a Belmont Shore diner and pounded coffee as he told me at length about his family tree. He told me about his mom’s efforts to trace their genealogy, including the difficulties in doing so before the 1865 because of–among other things–how many slaves’ genealogical records were destroyed in Sherman’s March, and how she’d rejoiced his college choice: “From slavery to Yale in four generations!”
After some time, he noticed I wasn’t saying much and paused. “I’m boring you to tears, aren’t I?”
I shook my head. “That’s not it. Actually, I was just thinking how awesome it is that our child is going to grow up feeling connected to history. For my siblings and me, there were effectively two generations: ours and Mom’s. I grew up wishing I had grandparents and great grandparents who could tell me stories about our history, but I didn’t. I think it’s pretty neat that this kid is going to know a bunch of generations, not just from names on a piece of paper but pieces of the people those names belonged to, too.”
I thought about this yesterday as I drove toward a prenatal appointment for child number two. I’d previously gone to a clinic nearer my office, but dismayed at being just a number in line at what felt like the very slow-moving fast food of health care. My husband told me I’d fare better at the one nearest our home, but I didn’t believe him until we had to go there for an urgent care trip recently. I’d been going to Mordor; here, just 20 minutes from our house, was the Shire. I was intent on switching promptly.
The only problem was our son, Li’l D. Since kids aren’t allowed at prenatal appointments and the preschool to new clinic distance is slowly traveled, I was stuck. For a moment. You see, Li’l D’s grandmas live near the clinic. Grandma has to go to work in the morning, but Great Grandma does not. And Great Grandma, as you can imagine, is a great fan of her great grandson.
The way my son lights up when he sees we’re en route to his grandmas’ house also lights up my heart. I saw it again before my appointment early yesterday morning and rejoiced, as I always do.
The best thing about changing clinics is not avoiding medical Mordor, but the extra grandma time my son gets as a result. He doesn’t remember my mom, though I celebrated their being able to meet, but his memories of childhood will include many reflecting the active, loving involvement of his paternal grandmas.
I grew up feeling, with rare exception, that “family history” went only as far as my mom’s personal memories. I exult in the fact it means something very different to my son, and to know that his little brother or sister will also know this love not only as history but present.