My only niece on my side of the family turns 30 today. Where did those years go? I remember what I ate the night before she was born. I remember that entire day vividly. Now, I have a son, and my niece just had a son of her own. Before he died, my father told me that his biggest regret was not living to see my children. Now, almost 15 years after his death, he has a grandson and a great grandson he will never see.
My mother now has two grandchildren (a 30 year old and a 3 year old....talk about pent-up Grandma demand!), and she has yet to meet her new great grandson because it's tough for her to get to Boise for many reasons. I've talked to friends about the sadness of watching their once-vibrant parents age, and my mother and my beloved step-father are growing older and more frail. My friends and I spend a lot of time helping our parents deal with the complexities of age and the resulting fears that seem rather insignificant to us but can overwhelm the elderly.
My mom and step-father live only two hours away, but the time and the miles seem much more daunting now that their lives are afflicted by the ravages of age such as macular degeneration, hearing loss, and an aching loneliness resulting from a big house and no visitors. We try to go there as much as possible because it's not fair to always expect them to drive to Boise to visit us. We are basically their only visitors which is sad. I'm committed to them being part of Ethan's life because the thread of life between generations is so important, and his grandparents will be gone before we know it.
Too often in life we say we're too busy to pause, visit, and respect our past which is our parents and grandparents. So, as my niece suddenly has left her own crib for that of her son in what seems to be a blink of my eye but is really a 30 year journey of her own, I also reflect on my mother through the years who has wanted nothing more than to love and be loved by her family.
Someday, when she's gone and all we have is memories, her love will be a lasting legacy I will pass on to Ethan. And that is what family is all about in the end.