The other day I was sadly informed of my grand father's peaceful passing. My ache was intensified by the fact that my daughter and I had not been to see him since summer. It was a span of about eight months, I think. He didn't live overly far away. A five hour drive. In my daughter's 17 months she had only visited him two times. And boy, did he adore her and her smile and her red hair. I won't even bother trying to list my excuses. The fact is, we wanted to go but we did not. Now, I can never make up for something I had intended to do with all my heart.
I have many sentimental memories of my "Opa". Like the time when we camped and I befriended someone who didn't speak english and he was our rough translator. Or the time he had a few drinks at our house and he walked down the street belting out dutch songs.
He and my Oma were very close. I saw hand holding, kisses, hugs. They were a solid relationship in a world of broken hearts and struggling ties. Married for 66 years! And still in love. Even if they didn't communicate as well in their 80s. Throughout his sickness they refused to put him in a home and he insisted on my Oma's home cooking. They were dedicated to each other.
We would go camping and go to the hot springs. We would go to his Dutch club. We would drive around and look at the scenery. We would feed the birds. We would play cards and dice. He would tell me about things he built, especially when I married a construction worker. He would purposely spit out his false teeth.
As I reminisced about our time together I realized that often my mom was not there. I recall some trips with her but many times she was not present. And in a short span when they lived in the same area we would often walk straight to Oma and Opa's house after school.
We enjoyed a close relationship with our grandparents. This is something I would really like my daughter to have with all of her grandparents. But I have already received comments that no one is sure if I'll let her spend any extended time without me. This June, she will be staying with her cousins while I attend an event. I know she will have a blast. But it will be a nerve wracking first for me. Hmmm, I definitely have a problem.
I treasure my little girl very much. I want to be there for all of her victorious firsts. I want her to know that I am genuinely interested and that I care. Time is flying by and I want to hold on to any moment that I can get. I know I will have trouble eventually letting her go but, in my view, that is still very far away.
In many areas of my life I have learned that insecurity or worry will impede opportunities. I don't want my longing to not miss anything to create a lack of relationship that will result in others missing out. I have tried to create the atmosphere with me present. I watched her laugh heartily for the first time with my mother. I heard her say "love" for the first time ever in response to her paternal grand mother's "love, love, love you" (previously her expression was always, "I you"). She already has her traditions. Crackers and Grandma and Grandpa's. Playing with her Oma's cane.
More memories to be made and traditions to develop. When we go over there for dinner. Take walks downtown in the summer and meet family. Go to the beach. Maybe go camping together. I'll tell her about my camping trips with my Oma and Opa. Like the time that I was so sunburnt that I spent the whole day lounging in the bug tent.
And just maybe, maybe, my little girl will go on a camping trip without me.