Monday, July 14, 2008

Detroit redux (Then and Now)

Is it true - does absence make the heart grow fonder? Did you miss me? We were in Detroit, where my internet access was limited and my focus was turned out, instead of in. We went for a celebration of my grandfather's 85th birthday/family reunion weekend. It was, um, an interesting weekend.

This grandfather is my last living grandparent. But he also comes from the didn't-talk-to-us-for-years-and-years branch of my family. Unlike my grandmother, though, I don't think he harbors any animosity towards me; he's just not so interested. Or if he is, he doesn't show it. I'm not saying this out of hurt because I feel pretty detached about it. But still - he has only two great-grandchildren in the whole world - my kids. He never called when (or since) L was born, or sent a card, or acknowledged her existence. I wonder, who wouldn't want to know a baby, offspring of your offspring of your offspring? Does he remember her name, or how to spell it?

why did we go, then? i don't know- why do you do things for family. because it made my parents happy. because it's good for my girls to feel comfortable with air travel. because it's good for them to know they have extended family, even if they're all hundreds to thousands of miles away. because it was something to do? because i really like putting myself in confrontation's way, sometimes, and feel disappointed if i don't get to speak my mind. because i'm an optimist at heart.

I had a good weekend, though. The girls really are great travellers - no crying airplane children in this family (thank goodness!). They were well behaved and entertaining to the mostly senior crowds. They didn't sleep too wonderfully (more on that in tomorrow's post, maybe?) but they were agreeable and adaptable, even when we were stuck in the Detroit airport for six hours, staring at our airplane through the plate glass, being told that the sunny sky we saw harbored storms so strong we weren't allowed to board. Even when we were still in the Detroit airport at L's bedtime, and then E's, and when we expected to be home before dinner but instead got home after midnight. They were champions. And I spent time with many other family members whom we don't see so often, but whom I really enjoy knowing as an adult. Despite my grandfather's indifference, I'd probably go again.

Almost two years ago, when E was exactly L's age now, we took her to Detroit. Both of my parents grew up there, so both my mom's side and my dad's side of my family have Detroit roots. This weekend's trip was to see my dad's side of the family. Two years ago we were in town with my mom's side. It was another birthday/reunion. We were celebrating my grandmother's 90th birthday. She has since died and L is in fact named partly for her but this was before L and two years ago, my grandma met E for the first time.

August 25, 2006
Portrait of ecstasy
Grandma Rebecca receiving E's kisses.

This weekend my grandfather met L for the first time. He never held her all weekend. He never called her by her name. He wasn't so interested. (He wasn't so interested in any of us. We spent all weekend gathered in his house. On Friday he decided to change the dinner menu and disappeared for over an hour to pick up pizzas. On Saturday he disappeared for almost two hours because his girlfriend wanted company to go to Costco. Then she came back in the house and told everyone that she only bought one thing - a T-shirt.) Don't misunderstand me: I'm not hurt or angry. Just: disappointed. Pin It