I recently saw a picture of my son and his four children sitting on a rock next to a beautiful waterfall. My first reaction after seeing the picture was to mourn the fact that I can’t make special memories with my grandchildren like I did with my elders when I was a child. Then my thoughts drifted to the summer adventures I had with my great aunt and uncle who, every summer, invited me to spend a month or two with them in East Hampton, NY, near the ocean. True, I am unable to make memories with my grandchildren, but I can spend time enjoying my own memories.
For instance, I remember the feel of the ocean breeze that gently blew through the open windows and doors of the house. I remember the sound of the waves and the sweet smells drifting in from the rose garden. I remember doing cartwheels and playing croquet on freshly mowed grass. I remember taking dance lessons from a protégé of Isadora Duncan’s and leaping across a sprawling lawn, wearing a tunic, feeling the freedom of flight. I remember what the dance studio looked like and can still hear the plunky sounds coming out of the ancient upright piano. I remember walking down to the beach in the evenings, holding hands with my great uncle, talking, feeling the sand between our toes, then feeling safe and loved as fireflies illuminated our way back home.
Sometimes, it’s helpful to look back. I have so many happy memories, especially those made with the help of my elders. In fact, remembering how much I was loved has helped me through many rough patches. When I feel broken with sadness about the estrangement I’m caught up in, I often turn my thoughts to the incredible love and kindness I experienced during the summers I lived with my wonderful ancestors.
And my heart overflows with gratitude.