“You have to know the past to understand the present.”
― Carl Sagan
Or to appreciate the present.
In my post of July 4th, “Time”, I delved into a scientific and somewhat philosophical thought about time. My purpose in this posting is somewhat different, though time past- and present- related, and tells of an incident that occurred at our dinning table with my oldest son and his clan.
We were all sitting at the table, eating and talking, when something was said that caused the oldest grandaughter to comment that she loves history. It goes without saying that, because I also love history, I zeroed in and she and I began talking.
She told me at school they were studying about General Patton. I told her about how dad once met him (another story) when dad was undergoing desert warfare training here in California. From there I told her about when dad, as a boy along with his father handing out sandwiches to the “Bonus Marchers” on the Mall in D.C. ten years after WWI, first saw Patton and MacArthur as they and their tanks and army routed them and the “Marchers” off the Mall (and how that event so turned dad off to the military that he wouldn’t enlist when WWII broke out – “If those bastards want me, they’ll have to come and get me!”, which they did, by drafting him three years later), and some of his jungle-warfare experiences in the Pacific during the war.
All of which excited her, and at the end she said, “Wow, all that happened to my great-grandfather!”
[A little backstory: My son married a lady and together they have a son and daughter. My daughter-in-law also brought with her four children of her own, two girls (first and last) and two boys (in the middle). Now, in our hearts and souls my wife and I have considered all of her four to be our grandchildren (the prefix “step-” is forbidden in our house), and have told them so repeatedly since day one and we’ve loved and treated them as such, just as much as the two from my son and their mother. However, only the youngest of her four calls me “Papaw” (like the two babies do). And she (and sometimes her next oldest brother) call my wife “Nana” (as the two babies do) when they speak to her. But I cannot remember ever once any of the three older ones calling me papaw, grandpa or anything like that, even though I know in my heart that they love me. And I understand, the youngest was just barely three years-old when we came into her life, so in her memory I’m the only “grandfather” she knows other than her father’s step-father. The other kids were much older, just barely six to almost twelve, and knew right off I wasn’t really their “blood” grandfather, and so I’ve been “Bill” to them. Now back to the story.]
Here she was, calling my dad her “great-grandfather”.
Not, “Your Dad.”
That told me she doesn’t think of me as only an appendage to her family, but that she also considers herself belonging to – and a member of – mine.
Her present is no longer confined to her past.
I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciated that, how warm that made my heart, and how I love her all the more for it.