Yesterday, I received a magazine in the mail. I've been getting it for three years, though I never read it because it was addressed to my grandfather (who lived in this apartment before he passed away). Sometimes I would throw it away, other times I would pass it on to my father with all the rest of my grandparents' mail. Today, however, something on the cover caught my eye, and I took a look inside. The magazine is called "Chemical Heritage" and is the publication of the Chemical Heritage Foundation. The article which caught my eye was called, "Silver and Sunlight" and is about the history of photography. I went on to read several more articles and now I feel pretty confident I'll never throw one of these out again.
The significant part of this story is that it got me thinking about my grandfather. Sometimes I wish I could go back to the days when he was alive and well and this time be wise enough to speak to him more. As a child, I never found him terribly interesting because, unlike my grandmother, he didn't tell stories or play with his pills before taking them. Mostly, I remember him perusing the grocery ads and looking for coupons. By the time I was a teenager, he was already unwell and I was uncomfortable being around him. If only I could go back and ask him who he was.
I wish I knew more about his work. It must have been fascinating. My grandfather was a chemist who worked for the government until he retired in the 70's. I wish I had known enough to ask him what he did there. I wish I had cared. When I ask my father, it seems he wasn't too sure.
I know that my grandfather was a good man and a good Jew. I know that he so much wanted his son to have a Jewish education that he sent my father to live in the Park Heights neighborhood so that he could attend TA through middle school. When my father came home with all of the new things he learned, my grandparents went about being more careful about kashrus and shabbos. It's because of this that my family is now religious.
Sometimes I wish that my grandparents had kept journals. Something I could pick up and read and connect to. (My grandmother, the English teacher, would be so disappointed with me for ending a sentence with a preposition.) I wish I had known them better. I wish they were alive today to see how we've all grown up. I wish they could have been at my wedding and met my husband. I think they would have liked him. I think he would have loved them.
Not having ever been too close to any of my grandparents, I didn't feel a heavy loss when they died. Now, all these years later, I miss them and wish I could have them back to get to know them better. Now that I'm mature enough to understand the importance of their lives and experiences, of their love and all the work they did to make my life, and the lives of all my siblings and cousins, possible.
I miss them terribly and wish I could tell them.