I was anxious to see my grandson Joshua again before he leaves on July 31, for a year in Brazil. There is always the worry that I may not be here when he gets back.
Josh graduated this past May from the Univ. of Delaware with a degree in chemical engineering. But he is not sure he wants to devote his life to engineering, having discovered he is more of a people person. This year will give him a chance to try his hand at teaching. A year of total emersion in a foreign country is a good experience for any young person and Josh has gone about it in a very organized way. He has started a blog ( dizzleinbrizzle.blogspot.com ) where he describes his preparations and promises to keep us in touch with updates.
Josh and I also spent some time looking at my family trees and history project. I have a deep-seated hope that at least one of my grandchildren will catch the “spark” and carry it on, and Josh may be the one.
He brought his mother with him, to share the driving across state. They also had time together in the car, 6 hours each way..
I am always happy to see my daughter-in-law Gail. They have lived too far away for her to become the daughter I never had, but she has been a good mother to my grandchildren, and supportive wife to my son, and I love her for that.
6 years ago, Gail’s mother died of lung cancer which lodged in the brain,, and Gail spent the last 2 months with her. She knows, better than I, what I have to expect down the road, and I know she’ll be here for me. She and I also talked about how she and the family can help Larry, when the time comes. These are difficult conversations, but are better confronted now than ignored.
She also showed me a “Grandmother’s” book that she and her mother made to be left to the grandchildren. In it, “Grammie” recounts her first interactions with each grandchild and the special memories she has for each one. Included is the family tree of Grammie’s side of the family, and family recipes and pictures. These notebooks will become family treasures, and keep her memory fresh in the hearts of her grandchildren.
I plan to do something similar – I had always planned to leave a copy of my family history (which can be seen at www.pittsburghdiary.com/) for each of the grandchildren, and now I will add my own memories of vacations spent with the children and let them know how special they are to me.
An ethical will is an opportunity for the older generation to pass on their values to their descendants through a document that would be a part of their final papers. As Unitarians, we are all expected to create our own credo over the years, as we study and learn and grow. I have worked on mine for over 30 years. It would be entirely appropriate for me to include my ethical will in my “grandmother’s book”.
The best example of an ethical will comes from Shakespeare, from Hamlet, Act I Scene III. Polonius is bidding his son goodbye as Laertes leaves for a year in France. He offers some advice, including:
“Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to your heart with hoops of steel”
What wonderful words! “Their adoption tried” and “Grapple them to your heart with hoops of steel” Don’t ever be too busy for these friends! Show them you love them!
And his final words to Laertes have been a beacon to me all my life:
“This above all, to thine own self be true
and it must follow as the night the day,
thou canst not then be false to any man.”