June 16, 2014 at 6:51 am | Posted in Cult of Personality, My life, Parenting, Stuck with You (aka: Family) | 5 Comments

I think I’m going to call my late 30s as The Time of Insomnia. Because I can count on one HAND the nights I’ve slept the whole night in the past 3 months or so.


Last night I was widethefuckawake for about an hour. And I have a strict rule when I am awake overnight: no devices, no computer, no books. The first two are to avoid making my insomnia worse, but the second is because I don’t believe a book should be used to help me fall back asleep. Books are all their own: a journey, an escape, a way to connect, a way to feel, a way to not feel. They are not a means to an end, though.

So what I try and do is slow myself down. I breathe a bit and try and slow my thoughts down. I suppose you can call it “meditating,” though I’m not quite sure I actually get to a place where I’m focused only on my breath. I more feel like I’m soothing an overstimulated baby, trying to get her to relax and drop off into slumber.

And last night, as I was doing this, a thought popped into my head.

I wonder what traits I inherited from my grandfather?

My Grandpa C was my absolute favorite person in the WHOLE WORLD when I was a kid. I wouldn’t even pretend that it was otherwise – from the moment he came into our house until the moment he left, I was by his side. He was such a loving grandfather; the only one in my family that touched me with love. He was quick with a hug, didn’t mind me climbing into his lap, even when I was at the age where most adults said, you’re too big for this! and always seems to put a hand on my head or shoulder or my arm; letting me know when he was near.

He made me feel safe and loved when he was around.

We didn’t share blue eyes – my older cousin got them instead. I liked to think that maybe I inherited his musical talent – but years after he died, my other cousin got into chorus, and when we heard him sing, it was like my grandfather was there. T definitely has the same amazing, booming tenor voice he had.

I clearly didn’t inherit his ability to sleep. He used to fall asleep on our couch all the time, but call it watching TV with my eyes closed. Just resting my eyes! Apparently he always did it, even when I was an infant and my parents were living with them, he’d be holding me on the couch, me looking around, wide awake, him snoring.

I definitely did not inherit his ability to make friends with everyone new he met. He used to sell Amway, back in the day, and the man could chat up someone he didn’t know so well that people used to tell me, Your grandfather is such a great man!

I really don’t know much else about Grandpa C otherwise, quite honestly. He died in 1995, not quite a year after we lost Amy, and I never got to have an adult relationship with him. So I don’t know what traits of mine I inherited from him, biologically, anyway.

What I remember is how safe he made me feel, how loved I felt when he was around.

It was Saturday when, as I was in the middle of writing a grocery list, Lucky pushed his way into my lap. He climbed onto me, all bones and angles and elbows and corners. And I stopped what I was doing and wrapped my arms around him and gave him a kiss on the head, even though I was noting how big he was and how hard it was to have him sit in my lap. But, you know. I still carry him upstairs, even on the days where I’ve had a long run and my legs are tired and it’s really, really hard to get up those stairs with 45lbs of 6 year old clinging to me and Charlie and I decided that age 6 was too old for “free rides.” Every morning when Lucky comes down, I pick him up and he snuggles with me quietly, all curled up, his chin resting on my shoulder, his feet dangling.

And last night, in the middle of the night, I realized something.

I do with Lucky the same my grandfather did with me. Even though he’s probably too big to be carried, I do it anyway. Even though when he sits on my lap SOMETHING hurts me, an elbow or knee or bony butt bone.

Even though I’m not very physical with affection to anyone else in my life, Charlie included, I am with Lucky.

I give it to Lucky because I remember how good it felt to have that kind of love and affection, how safe I felt with my Grandpa C. I do it because I always want Lucky to feel loved and safe with me. Because as he grows, that’s going to be what he remembers. Because it’s how I forge our closeness. Because Lucky’s like a flower; I almost see the tangible benefits of my affection with him.

And so, in a way, that is my inheritance from my grandfather. I might not have gotten his blue eyes, and making music is something in my past. I might not have the ability to make friends with everyone, and I definitely am not at all a sales person.

But I give my son the same kind of love and affection he gave to me.

And in that way, part my grandfather lives on through me.

What’s your inheritance from your grandparents? 



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  1. On the one side, I got a love of/talent for baking. My grandmother refuses to *share* her recipes, but it’s the one thing we have in common.

    On the other? My Nana knew what it was like to have a chronically ill child, and I wish she had lived long enough to pass on whatever wisdom she may have had. But I know that the attitude, the ferocity, the thinly veiled impatience for things that don’t matter … it all came from her.

  2. Seriously, as a child from a tumultuous childhood and now as a parent navigating raising young children, I absolutely think that physical affection and verbal expressions of love are two of the, if not THE, most important things we can give our children.

  3. I never thought about this before, and I don’t know. I know I inherited my paternal grandmother’s looks, if not her values. My mom’s parents were the ones I was closest to, though. They were such good people, so caring toward us, not looking for recognition. If I inherited any part of that, I would be very pleased.

    And I am also sad at never having an adult relationship with my grandfather, who died when I was 14. My mom’s mother died when I was 22, though, and I’m pretty sure she would’ve had issues with some of the choices I’ve made as an adult. So in a way, it’s nice that I don’t have to worry about that.

  4. I never knew any of my grandparents well, only saw them for a summer every few years and there was always a language/cultural barrier. I really loved my maternal grandfather, but he died when I was 13 or so, so I knew him only from a child’s eyes. He was incredibly smart, curious about everything, and he could do a yoga handstand on the wall—at nearly 80 years of age!
    Your post is so sweet, what a nice thought to have in the middle of the night. Insomnia for me is a like an old friend you think you’ve totally lost touch with, but then you bump into each other and pick back up right where you left off. Thankfully she’s gone right now (Finally!!!). My “can’t fall asleep” thoughts are generally dark and gloomy.

  5. Beautiful!
    I inherited a lot from my paternal grandmother, including her name (first and last), a lot of her personality and interests.
    I’ve been experiencing insomnia a lot recently also and found that kicking my Kindle habit helped a lot. But I like your philosophy about books too, I’d never really thought about it that way.

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