I spent time with my grandparents recently. They are the smallest people I have ever met and I towered over them. They were engulfed and lost in my embrace and I had the hardest time believing that I belonged to them. My dad wasn’t close to them while I was growing up which means that I hardly know them at all.
I can only remember seeing them three times while I was a child. I know now, that even then I recognized that I was the outsider there. The other family members were comfortable in their chairs and conversations. The other children knew where the toys were stored and how many cans of soda we were allowed to have. So easily and casually they would slip up into the laps of our grandparents without ceremony; an act so graceful and seamless that it screamed of belonging. I didn’t have that here. I observed, (without knowing I was observing, what six year old understands that they are observing?) that my father didn’t feel at home here either. He was awkward and guarded. He never seemed to relax as much as my aunts and uncles. I watched as he carefully selected his words and his place in the free flowing conversations. Regardless of how welcome they made us feel, we still felt different. I am not sure if my feelings sprung from his actions or from the striking contrast in my behavior compared to my cousins, but never the less, I felt I was a guest and not family.
Spending time with them as an adult wasn’t much different at the beginning. I couldn’t help noticing all the ways this family was different from my family. I didn’t have their influence on my life so everything from what they ate to how they acted with each other was foreign. But, just when I didn’t think I could find a common ground to help me relate to these people, it happened, and it was magical. My grandparents got into an argument. Napkins; to have or have not napkins. Simple as that. My grandmother was anti-napkin, my grandfather was pro-napkin, let the debate begin. The exchange was priceless as I watched the verbal volley between the two. “That reminds me, stop bringing home those restaurant napkins.” My grandmother randomly demands. All eyes at the table turn to my Grandfather who is staring at her with amused shock, “Huh?” “They’re taking up space in the bedroom.” “They’re on my side of the bed.” “Yes, but I need that space.” “You have the entire room of space; you need my napkin space too?” “Yes, and I keep throwing them away, but you keep bringing them home.” “I keep bringing them home because they’re never there when I need them. Now I know why.” “Well, stop it.” It was like watching two retired tennis pro’s knocking a ball around for the fun of it. Neither one of them won this match, it was merely an exercise.
I fell in love with my grandparents in that moment. I love that they have lived their entire lives together. I love that they know all the details of each other and haven’t grow tired or bored. I love that they still enjoy a good mental spar. I finally knew how I connected to them and through them to the rest of my family. I wasn’t a guest anymore, I was their granddaughter.
That night, I realized how much I need you. I realized that we can have the next 40 years to pick nonsense arguments with each other just to see who has the superior intellect. I realized that I missed your company beyond measure. I realized that I am complete without you, but that I can’t wait to share this beautiful life with you. I realized that it was high time for me to stop playing with my distraction relationships and make room for you in my life. I realized that it is time for me to look for you. Beloved, I don’t know who you are, where you live, or what your life is like right now, but I want you to know that I am on my way to your side.