It Comes Full Circle

I decided my new mission in life is be less self-absorbed.  I came to this conclusion after I lectured my two children for not wanting to visit my dad, their grandpa. Their indifference had nothing to do with their grandpa and everything to do with the fact that they can’t sit still for more two minutes. I’m not exaggerating.

“I never met either of my grandpas,” I told them. “They both died before I was born. See how lucky you are to have two living grandpas.”

This piqued their interest. “How did they die?”

The truth is, I’m not sure how they died. I remember once I remarked to my mother that both my dad’s parents had died in a car accident when he was young.

“No,” she gasped. “That’s not what happened at all.”

Oh. Okay…then what? I never heard the story. Quite possibly as a child I simply filled in the blanks, invented my own story where there was none. Seems like a reasonable thing a kid might do. You wonder as a parent how often kids may do this. Truthfully, you have no idea what they’re thinking and by the time, as an adult, you are reasonable to wonder what kids think, your mind doesn’t operate this way anymore. You can’t possibly understand how ideas take hold in their minds, all short-sighted and imaginative.

All grown up, you look for facts and a rational explanation. Did I miss the dinner when my dad talked about his family and his parents? Mind you, I grew up in a household where lots of sentences were left unfinished. Not to mention that there was a fanciful degree of chaos that whirled around us and shielded us from all directions, providing a safety net. Chaos provides energy and some tended thrive on it, if you know what I mean. I once had a boyfriend who described my childhood household as “uncivilized.” Well, we didn’t last. He never would have been comfortable in my family.

Perhaps the real reason I don’t know what happened to my dad’s parents is that I have never taken the time to hear the story, whether or not it was actually told is beside the point now. I didn’t hear it. It appears that a few of my sisters are not clear about these facts either, as I asked them recently. One thing they agreed is that my dad’s father died when he fairly young.

As a parent, I finally see the weight of that possibility and what that must have meant for his eleven siblings, my dad being number twelve. Beyond coping, I wonder how this event must have shaped him as a person, and later, as a parent. I’ve only guessed at this point and filled in the blanks.

I know that I’m lucky that my parents are still alive. In their seventies, I know I cannot take their lives for granted. My dad and I are going out for breakfast this week. I think it’s time for a little family history lesson. I’ll be sure to bring my notebook, so I won’t forget what he tells me. I want to get the story right this time.

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19 thoughts on “It Comes Full Circle

  1. You’re probably on to something with the idea that you filled in the blanks which ultimately became your ‘truth’. Or, perhaps, because you never knew them, you never created ANY sort of bond, so you never had a reason to care or internalize the reason (and that’s not meant to sound harsh).

    My mother died when I was 2 and for years, decades even, I was told it was colon cancer. And yet when people asked me what my mom died from, I’d say “cancer” but had no real memory of what kind. I’d ask again, be told again, then forget (again). I think in my mind it really didn’t matter WHAT KIND – the bottom line was it was CANCER. Of course, now that I’m older and there’s a solid history of cancer in my family, it’s taken on a whole other level of importance and now it’s something I’ll never forget.

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    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Mike. My sympathies to you that you lost your mother at such a young age. I think you’re right that we create our own “truth” – I like how you stated that – in the absence of one. It’s interesting as kids you just allow only the information that is wanted at the time. Knowing your family medical history now is so important. I think my grandpa died of a heart attack and it is a solid part of our family history now, too. Including my brother, who had a quadruple bypass at age 48.

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  2. Becoming less self-absorbed and becoming more aware of one’s family and roots seem to me different activities. Certainly all children are self-absorbed, self-centered. But when they engage with their family it enlarges their circle. Makes them something larger. Achh – how to reach out to the stars.

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  3. TBF,
    Eleven siblings? Were you Catholics? My father had 10 sisters, he was the eldest and the only boy… This was a well-written and thoughtful post, TBF.
    L’Éric

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    1. TE,
      You guessed it, right on the nose!! Y’gads, huh?! Wow, your dad was the only boy…whoa with 9 sisters! Can you imagine having 12 kids of your own? Insanity! My parents were both Catholics, so of course, I was raised Catholic too. We had 6 kids in my family. My neighbors had 10 kids, behind us a family of 10 kids!! Jesus Christ! Two is enough for me! Thanks for your nice comments.
      Le Bumble

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  4. I understand where you are coming from. My dad lost a son by his first marriage. The little boy was five and for some reason I made up my own stories to how he died. Turns out none of them were accurate. I think a part of me didn’t want to know the truth. Some pills are harder to swallow than others.

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    1. So true. How right you are. It’s interesting how a lot of people have had similar experiences kind of making up their own truths. I didn’t realize that I was really writing about this when I wrote this post. Thanks for your comments.

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  5. I recently decided I would like to become a little more self-absorbed.
    But then I discovered it simply wasn’t possible… it seems as though I’ve absorbed all the self that it’s possible to absorb!
    Seriously, though… I wish I knew more about my family history, too. I think part of my problem with that is how easily I get confused. There’s always a lot of, ‘wait… that was… whose kid again?’ etc. It’s a good thing for literal family trees, because if anyone needs a chart, it’s me!
    🙂

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    1. Thanks, SIG. Your comment makes a lot of sense. Absorbing all there is to absorb. I thought about this a little. I think I get a little introspective, so maybe not the same as self-absorbed. I’ve realized lately I need to see my dad more, so am starting there. Need to make time and space in my life for that so. We need a family tree. I have 200 cousins or something. Crazy. That kind of makes my head dizzy. 🙂

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  6. I often wish I had taken the time to ask my grandparents more about their pasts when I had the chance. So much history there, but when we’re younger, we just don’t think about those things. Too bad, really.

    Thanks for stopping by my site. 🙂

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    1. I agree. I think there is so much history in every one of us. The older I get the more I forget exactly what it is. It’s good to keep the dialogue going about these things. I just had that breakfast with my dad this morning and learned so much. Thanks for stopping by my site, too!

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