Last weekend I had a bit of a whirlwind family tour. I thought, before venturing off to our six months travel, it would be nice to see some of my family, especially both sides of my grandparents.
I hadn’t seen my paternal grandparents for quite some time, so I was looking forward to seeing them, talking to them and finding out more about what has been going on in their lives now that they are both in their early 80s and are about to embark on a major life-changing journey, which is move to an assisted living home away from where they have been living for the vast majority of their lives. I was curious how this decision came about and how they felt about it because I know how set they are in their routines and their way of living. It wasn’t easy having this conversation with them, for one, because we hadn’t seen each other in a while and there was some catching up to do; also because they generally don’t talk in much detail about this kind of stuff.
The next day, I spent with my maternal grandfather. We talked about all kinds of things, present, past and future, almost all day long. His behaviour and our conversations showed me a different approach to life, also being in his 80s. I find it interesting experiencing time together with the two sets of grandparents in ways that are almost opposite to one another. I know people are unique, and cannot be compared like for like, but it got me thinking about change.
Some don’t want it, don’t embrace it and hold on to memories regardless of what is happening around them now or what is happening with them physically and mentally. Naturally, change can be tough and problematic. But change can also mean opportunities and new discoveries that open your world even more, regardless of your age and challenges.
When being with my paternal grandparents, there was a lot of story telling about the past, remembering the times when they were young working professionals in the former DDR, when my dad was in the army or when I was a child spending holidays and weekends with them. I know that we don’t see each other often and that these stories and experiences are important to them now. It is what they hold on to to get through life. At the same time, I feel that it is the past they hold on to and are missing out on the present.
Equally, there was some story telling with my maternal granddad. He gave me a report he found about this aunt’s family and what happened to them during World War II. He also remembered some instances including my grandmother when she was still around. With those stories, also came curiosity about current world events, new foods to try and the stubbornness to want to do it all still by himself.
Again, there are different reasons for why people are the way they are. There is also certainly a lot more to all the stories and lives of all of my grandparents than could ever be laid out in one blog post (let alone in one book), but I find it interesting how differently people view the past, how their learnings from certain past life experiences affect their current behaviour and approach to living, no matter how old they are, and also how it affect us, younger family members.
I think there is so much more that can be said about this and again, I am scratching the tiniest surface, but it is so fascinating as it defines how their children, children’s children etc. go about their lives, question decisions and behaviour and then adapt to how they, a.k.a we (a.k.a I) go about my live.