and yet, here we are
WILDER + WILEY i die of cuteness
Yes I did read "healthy choice" in the voice from last week
Knock knock – Idk if I want a gravestone. I want to be cremated, but maybe just a marker in the cemetery next to my grandparents and aunt with simple biographical details like Madeline Friend, 1991 - ?
I love to broil cheese on bagels. My heart hurts for Alik not being able to broil.
the family picture is a dang treat
Wilder's curls never miss.
Brilliant post. Thank you for telling this wonderful story - I loved part one, too.
I learned something a couple of years ago when I finally moved on from something somewhere. I'd been engaged with that thing the way it was, the thing I'd decided upon all those years ago, and was trapped by the fact that that original decision meant I wasn't allowed to move on - I would be stuck with it forever. Well, I woke up one day and realised that I could make a new decision. And my shoulders are a lot straighter now that that huge weight has been lifted from them!
Tradeoffs are a bitch.
One of my favorite modern philosophers (Adam Miller) likes to talk about how God's grace is the hard-to-accept process of constantly being given more than we can accept, while also having to let go of the things that are constantly being taken away. This unending, overwhelming transaction is nowhere more poignant than it is in the context of parents and children. In order to get Wilder the 1.5 year old toddler, you had to give up Wilder the infant. In order to get Wilder the precocious six year old, you're going to have to lose the toddler. If and when you get grandkids of your own, it will happen as or after Wilder has lost his own grandparents. We can't stop the tradeoffs. They happen no matter what choices we make or avoid.
There's something in all this about rigorously exercising gratitude for the wonderful, beautiful abundance that permeates life, while also graciously accepting (and mourning) the constant, harrowing loss of things that are precious to us. It's hard af. I think no matter how much work you put into both things, you get to the end of your life feeling like you could have done better.
Or maybe it's possible to get to a point where you realize that the struggle to do it "right" is just another manifestation of our resistance to the grace over which we ultimately have no control.
Alex, a beautifully told story. Keep going. Lots of us drive in the median of this life.
Aww, I could write a whole post right here in your comment section. I'll do my best to keep it to a minimum (good luck on that). My daughter moved to Baltimore last June. She likely will make her home there, but I await that decision. I've got a few years. But if she does stay there, and if she does have children, then I have a decision to make. Alex, it isn't just your choice. It's also your parents' choice. Sorry if that makes Alix or your parents angry to hear, because I love them from what I read about them.
I love my home, more than I can say. And I love my community. But I'm not sure I could stand the thought of living away from my grandchildren. I have a job that allows me to chat with people often. I listen to their stories. I hear all sorts of advice from people my age about moving/not moving to be with your children/grandchildren. The jury is still out, and like I said, I have time to make that decision. But I will end with this, which is something I just said to someone recently about eldercare, I think it's up to parents to try to make it easy on their kids in terms of living close enough to make eldercare somewhat easy. My mom, bless her heart, followed me throughout my life, sometimes to my dismay, lol. We had a bit of a time of it. But in the end, I ended up dragging her where I needed to go, and it turned out to be our savings grace. I will likely follow my children once they land, especially if I've had a chance to hold a grandchild in my arms. Likely a done deal.
Oh, and most important, this post was amazing. I love the stories about your family and your heart, a winning combination when combined with your humor.
Loved this sweet essay Alex! The normalization of living far from home is bonkers, and I say that as someone who has also Moved Away. I agree we can’t really be whole living this way and it’s good to acknowledge this. Feeling the emptiness is the next best thing.
I’d like my tombstone to say “She loved everything.” This is not yet true but I hope it is by the time I die!
I am so very there with you. We have gone back and forth for YEARS on whether to move closer to my family (and some of my husband's as well). We had JUST decided to try to make the move back..... when we got pregnant with my daughter. We had to buy a house and make a decision... so we made the decision to stay where we were.
That being said!
What words do you want on your gravestone? - All of the hard days are gone -or- don't shed a tear. Both of those are lyrics from Irish songs. Although I plan to be cremated and buried in the roots of a tree so probably no gravestone.
What’s your fav thing to cook in the oven? Pumpkin bars!
this is by far one of the most enjoyable posts I've read. Alex, it is wonderful how you put words that fit so well.
Alex, you had me at Part 1, Part 2 was a given, and to use the same and right word that you used, savor, is the word for reading this, as in "savor and really read this". Including this connection in 1 and 2, between water and roots of family trees and setting roots in a place where you have kids and your friends' kids are friends with your kids, versus the bittersweet substitute for home fires in the form of pixelated blobs of outdoor fires. You're stuck with me and quite a few others now.
ps the sprees omg
isn't it so fucking annoying, like, that we still don't have transporters/teleportation? in a joking way but also kind of a true way i feel like that could help with the whole world peace thing. like imagine how fulfilled people could be if everyone had access to the best therapist or doctor for them, if everyone could see family whenever, if everyone could live and work wherever and not have to pay $$$$ in rent just because that's where your job is. if everyone had access to travel for pleasure, without having to come up with thousands for airfare and hotel and time off work. if your kid could go to the right school for them. obviously a lot of this still involves MONEY also but...still. geography is a big big barrier to so much that makes people unhappy.
it's hard when you have family in one place and friends in another. even when i visit my family, it's like, i love it, it fulfills me to no end, i'm so happy. and then 730pm hits and the day is over there. and i'm just alone for several hours wishing i could be with my partner, or out with friends. or just in my own bed! why can't everyone just live in the same place so i can have the best of both worlds? but that's life i guess, for so many of us.
re: relationships with parents and grandparents - my dad and i have always gotten along and been really close. my mom and i have not. it was tumultuous when i lived at home, to say the least. i never doubted that she loved me and would do anything for me, but she has a hot temper and picks fights all the time. i moved out at 17 and my relationship with her improved drastically. we've gotten along great ever since, although sometimes there's glimmers of the past. (a few weeks ago she picked a fight over me asking for a spatula and tried to gaslight me into thinking rubber spatulas didn't exist. true story.)
my mom's parents were like second parents to me - they took over childcare when my mom went back to work after having me as they had just retired, and we went there almost every weekend and constantly all summer too as they lived by the beach in narragansset. (this was because back then my grampa could work at GE for a normal number of years, and support five kids and his wife and own a house and a summer home all on a factory salary. anyway they moved into the beach house full time some time before i was born.) i loved it there. it was fucking idyllic. walks to the beach, swimming, flower garden & cooking with gramma, vegetable garden and playing cards with grampa, i could write ten pages on all the great stuff we used to do. i never got over either of their deaths. if i was talking about this in person i'd maybe get three words in before i started crying. time with them was like...the place where it was safe and nothing bad could ever happen. everyone was happy. having to sell their house is probably the biggest regret my mom and i both have - we just couldn't afford to keep and maintain it at the time. (i saw someone in the other post mention this same regret and i felt that Big Time.)
my dad's parents were cool too - and my gramma is still living at home chilling at 92 like she hasn't aged in 30 years. i love them, but it wasn't the same as with my mom's parents.
my favorite thing to cook in the oven...damn. i love to cook and i cook every day so that would be a tough one. i've thought about it now for five minutes and i can't decide. a turkey will be in there soon enough, that's always exciting. it's pumpkin bread season too. garlic bread. vanilla roasted pears. chicken scarpiello. jerk chicken. dutch babies. enchiladas. SO MANY THINGS.
on this subject, I hear from a lot of grandparents telling me they chose to move to be closer to their grandkids. Recently I had another woman tell me "you can't follow your kids because they end up moving around and you can't keep following them." She didn't seem like the warm fuzzy type though, ha! And then there's the ones who have numerous children, which one do you follow if they all have kids? Your parents are fortunate that they only have you to chase after! Oh, by the way, that picture of you guys is priceless. Wow, four generations, that's pretty lucky!