Dr. Hapgood, your cruise director (hapgood) wrote,
Dr. Hapgood, your cruise director

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family: the realities of generational transmission

Nothing like breaking my own rule, reading LJ for almost two hours and not catching up . . .

It's been a surreal few days, for want of a more accurate term. My maternal grandfather died two weeks ago today, and I didn't find out until last Friday, almost a week after the funeral. We aren't a close family by any means, but this seems a little extreme for me that I had to find out from my father, a man divorced from this family for almost twenty years. My mother still hasn't returned my call from last Friday; I guess we're still playing the phones only work one way game. After all, we did talk in early December for almost fifteen whole minutes, so we really are still ahead for communication in this six month period.

Okay, I refuse to let my bitterness toward my mother color any more of this entry. I'm trying to work through some thoughts about my grandfather, not just fuel a fire that started almost eleven years ago.

I haven't seen my grandfather in years. I've been playing this game with myself since I graduated high school, that as soon as I obtained a reasonable amount of success, I would reintroduce myself to old acquaintances so they can be filled with joy seeing that I bloomed rather than wilting on the vine. I waited too long to reintroduce myself to the one person I needed approval from the most. My grandfather, Lionel Calvin Lewis, more intelligent than any two people I know, more critical than any three. Excepting myself of course. While I'll never be as critical as he was, I can make a good showing most days. I had to write a paper about my family of origin once for a graduate class, and had to interview every member of my immediate family. When asked who I was most like, every one responded that I was most like Grandpa Lewis.

While I was shocked to be compared to this giant in my life, this man with two engineering degrees who memorized piano reductions of Gershwin shows as a hobby, I wished for it to be true. I'd willingly carry the curse of the being critical to have one-tenth of his ability to get what he wanted out of life.

I spoke with my sister, who was raised as his daughter, about him this weekend, and she described him with a word I would never think to apply to him. Insecure. How did I never notice how alike we were? I actually know the answer to this-he made me cry when I was ten years old by yelling at me for closing the venetian blinds inappropriately and then scrambling to try to do it the way he wanted (yep, never going to be that kind of critical). From that point on, I was afraid of him.

I'm done being afraid of him; I'm done being afraid of being like him. I'm not him. I may be less intelligent than him by an entire standard deviation, but he was an ignoramus when it came to handling people. I'm the fusion of both my families, and when I finally get it all figured out, I'll be unstoppable.

I love you, grandpa. You wouldn't want to hear it, because you wouldn't know how to respond without sounding uncomfortable, but it's the truth, and the truth was always important to you. Let me know that you are at peace.
Tags: deep, family

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