I keep a beautifully crocheted afghan on the recliner in Grady’s room. It was made by my great grandma, and was a staple at my Grandma’s house when I would go to visit. It has 4 bright shades of pastels crocheted together and whenever I would sleep the night at Grandma and Grandpa Reamer’s, Grandma would have it ready for me. When she passed away, and we were going through her things, the only thing I could think of that I really wanted was that blanket. I must confess that until Grady was born, I kept it hidden away from everyone because when I was really upset, or lonely, or worried, I could curl up under it and still smell the familiar childhood scents of Grandma’s house.
Once Grady was born however, I started spending more than my fair share sleeping on the recliner in his room, and it seemed only fitting to have it close. Last night, when I was rocking Grady to sleep, I was marveling at the tight crochet work, the mixture of the colors, and I thought to myself, I wonder if my Great Grandma Reamer EVER thought that some day her great, great grandson would be getting rocked to sleep under something she so lovingly created.
It sort of hit me like an epiphany because shortly before I had concluded that Grady had my Grandpa Reamer’s hands, definitely my dad’s nose and mouth, an air of Grandpa Hunter about him, Grandpa Klassen’s forehead, and eyes and a dimpled smile just like his Daddy. I cuddled tighter into the blanket and wondered what I would leave behind. It’s a strange thought, wondering what random genetic trait, or perhaps at the time, insignificant homemade good, will outlive you. What could outlive you and go on to give your future great great grandchildren cause to smile, or feel loved, or to laugh at an old memory.
For better or worse, I come from a long line of big personalities. Laughing at Annabelle eating onions and sausage, and channeling her Great Grandma as she motored around the kitchen helping me bake, or watching Ben even as a baby, so serious, so contemplative as he lined up his cars, taking great care to turn the wheels straight, so much like his Grandpa Hunter. Now Grady, who we are still getting to know, staring out the window in his room with those big blue eyes, watching the airplanes, and highway, just like his Great Grandpa Hunter, who so coincidentally left this world right before Grady joined it.
Of course it’s not just my family reflected in our children, Mike sees his own memories looking back at him from time to time as well. Ben looks like a Klassen through and through.. and the older he gets, the more I see it. Annabelle has the deep brown Sutter eyes, and was lucky enough to get the Klassen dimples too. (Don’t ask Mike how he will enjoy her teenage years!)
I still remember my dad telling me once that I reminded him of his Grandma Mamie. I had never met her, but the smile on his face when he talked about her led me to believe it was a compliment in the most sincere form. My mom would often exclaim that my stubborn personality reminded her of her sister. This I took as a compliment, however I’m not sure that’s what she meant. (*Editor’s Note: My mom and my aunt love each other dearly… but they still are sisters… so, you know.) Needless to say, haven’t we all, for the good or the bad, heard that we were acting, or we looked like, or seemed to emulate someone?
So I guess what I came to discover, at 3 am in the morning, is that whether a material remnant like a blanket, or the glimpses of the much loved relative reflected in your baby’s smile, we carry the people and memories that came before us so much closer to the surface than we realize. What a great pleasure, and incredible blessing, to feel generations of love wrapped around me in that afghan, or that much missed face echoed back in my child’s eyes.