My Grandma turns 98 today. Ninety-Eight! That’s just two years shy of a century, people! And she still turns up at all family events wearing a suit, pantyhose, meticulous makeup and accessories, and heels. She remembers all her grandkids and greatgrandkids by name. She attends most family functions – I mean, a mere decade ago she was a spry 88-year-old dancing up a storm at our wedding reception! Mind you, all the doctors in the room were praying that she didn’t slip on the parque and break a hip – but she sure showed them – and we have the pictures of Pete and her doing the twist to prove it.
Meeting Great Grandma Mimi is something special; as I have watched each of my boys during their first interactions with her I have gotten the chills.
Jackson makes a personal, up close and tender connection on his first trip Stateside:
We live inbetween. And now our boys do too.
Inbetween countries. Inbetween cultures. Inbetween languages. Inbetween time zones.
Inbetween two families.
No matter where we are, we are always away from one of our families (except of course when we were living in Ukraine when we were away from both families – but let’s not complicate matters for now).
But living in the inbetween makes homecomings that much sweeter. Bringing Jackson from his South African motherland to his American fatherland to meet the US side of his family was an epic trip. Hours of travel, traipsing up and down aisles, spilling baby formula and changing diapers later we touched down in Chicago and while being processed through customs, the agent looked up from our new son’s passport photo and over at the baby sleeping in my arms. And in a deep voice he said simply, “Welcome home, son, welcome home.”
Inbetween. But always at home. No matter the country, culture or language.
My boys are growing up with a gift that will challenge and stretch them; that will reward and hurt them; that will teach and shape them. They stand with one foot in the rich “be all you can be” promises of American ground and the other in the dry African soil baked hard from years of struggle. And they will discover that promises can sometimes ring empty and a good rain will grow flowers even in the desert. And they will inherit a rich family legacy intertwined with these two continents and their respective stories.
Today they will hear Great Grandma Mimi’s story. And I hope they will be reminded that no matter where we may be located geographically, we are part of the same story. This particular one was started nearly a hundred years ago. And being part of it is what makes us know we are home, even when we may feel inbetween.