The older I get…

As we age and outlive the older generations, most of us lament the questions we didn’t ask and the discussions we never initiated.  Recently, though, I’ve been looking at the “flip side” (for lack of a better descriptor) of my own aging process.  I have been noticing which characteristics of my forebears I have unwittingly developed.  Sometimes it’s a bit frightening to contemplate…

From Papa, my beloved maternal grandfather, I seem to have inherited loquaciousness.  The older I get, the more I talk and the more rambling my stories have become… just like Papa.  As his son Willard wrote of him in Oysterville, Roads to Grandpa’s Village: “He could talk indefinitely on any subject, detouring away from it for miles but always returning to his point of departure.”

Unfortunately however, it’s the returning to the point of departure that I didn’t inherit.  More and more I tend to lose the thread — a characteristic that I probably inherited from my mother.  Luckily, I think I also resemble her in the humor department and hope that as those threads continue to unravel, I can keep laughing — especially at myself.

On a scarier note, I fear I’ve inherited my maternal grandmother’s eye problems.  Granny was legally blind by the time I can clearly remember her — a combination of cataracts and glaucoma.  Just after World War II, she flew to Manhattan and had cataract surgery which, in those days, required her to lie on her back for ten days, her head secured between sandbags — twice!  Once for each eye.  My own cataract surgery was a breeze by comparison and the toric lenses that were implanted were a far cry from the thick glasses Granny wore for the rest of her life.  For the glaucoma, she used eye drops; so do I.

I think I got my neatnik tendencies (such as they are) from my dad.  Although I hardly noticed at the time, he was forever “picking up” after my mom — taking a glass back to the kitchen, organizing the stack of newspapers on the coffee table or returning garden tools to their rightful place.  He did it automatically, without thought — an accomplishment I haven’t quite achieved.  But I do feel antsy when things are not neat tidy.

With regard to my bossiness/leadership (depending how you look at it) tendencies, Dad often said I was just like his mother.  I hardly knew her so I can’t speak to that.  And, I’m sure there are other traits I exhibit — results of both nurture and nature, no doubt — traits that make me who I am, thanks to my progenitors.  It’s easy to blame them for my less admirable qualities, but I often forget to credit them with the better ones. (And that particular trait probably came from my great-grandfather R.H. Espy.  From what I understand, he was an exacting sort — quicker to criticize than to praise.)  Hmmm.

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