I didn’t post last week because I spent last Thursday on the road, doing the approximately ten hour drive required to get from home to the Okanagan. Because, last Saturday, there was a party to celebrate my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary. And because it’s been nearly two years since I was last able to see most of that side of my family. Fortunately, the wildfires plaguing British Columbia this year weren’t an issue along the route we took.
Being down there, seeing family I haven’t seen in a while, learning things I never knew about my family’s history, visiting with family and old family friends… I wish I had more opportunity than it feels like I have now. I hate living so far away from them. Most of them don’t text or Skype. Telephone is hard for me, for several reasons. If we could see any clear way to do so, we would happily move closer to them.
When I was growing up, family and family history were all around me. Vacations were used to visit relatives and attend family reunions. Family stories were brought up all the time. I wish I could remember more of the stories I have heard. I wish I could’ve heard more from the people these things happened to. I’ve lost four of the six grandparents I knew as a child. The other two are into their 80s and not in the best of health, which was partly why the summer celebration of an anniversary which actually falls between Christmas and New Years.
Heritage is such a huge part of personal identity. Family and family history often serve as a tether… a place to go back to when life gets too overwhelming. It’s what we build on, whether better or worse, when we create our own lives and stories. It influences our perception of ourselves. It influences how we relate to all kinds of aspects of our lives.
I watch my daughter grow and learn and I wonder what she’s learning about the meaning and history of family. She’s grown up surrounded by grandparents and aunts and uncles (biological and named) and she’s hearing some of the stories, whether she understands them now or not. I think about what I would like her to learn, how to pass values to her, what she will think of it all once she’s old enough to seriously consider what she thinks of it all.
How do I tell my daughter what my life has been like and how it influences the way I’m raising her?
How do I tell my daughter all the things I would like her to know about family and life and her options for the future?
What will my legacy to my daughter be?