Monday, June 19, 2017

“I hold that a strongly marked personality can influence descendants for generations.”

~ Beatrix Potter

I’m on the treadmill when my phone dings. I switch it from the Fitbit app to Messenger and find a text from my granddaughter.

“Hi Grandma, Mom said I could text you. What do you call it when you see something on the road that isn’t there? It looks like water.”

My mind goes back to last summer when Gerry and I–with the most precious cargo, our granddaughter, in the back seat–were on our way back home with her for our annual summer visit. The fun had already started as we chatted and played games. Her favourite was Wherever Has Got Talent that had Grandma, Grandpa, and Granddaughter alternatively singing songs, reciting poems, offering constructive criticism and–occasionally–buzzing an especially off-the-wall performance.)

On that sunny summer day, the road before us long, I noticed a mirage on the road in front of us and was transported to the backseat of my dad’s Oldsmobile where so many hours passed as we journeyed to our summer holiday destination. Dad entertained us with silly songs and poems that I sometimes draw on today when it’s my turn to perform in Wherever Has Got Talent. He also taught me the name of the image of a pool of water on the black pavement in front of our car that disappeared as we got closer–mirage.

Last summer, as we traveled, I taught my granddaughter about the magic on the road in front of us. It captured her interest for a minute–then she returned to playing with her Barbies, or her tablet, or planning the next round of games for us. The moment passed by like a thousand other ordinary moments.

Her text message brought it all back. I knew she, at that moment, was in the back seat of her mom’s car and, I assume, must be seeing a mirage on the road. It struck me that a year after we talked about it, she still recalled our conversation.

I guess I know it intellectually but her text message made it real. Every moment we’re together–whether we’re having fun or I’m teaching her a life lesson–she’s listening. When we’re chatting on Skype or when she’s reading a letter I sent her, she’s paying attention. In every second of every precious minute I am with her she is being influenced by some things that will be forgotten and other things she’ll internalize and, maybe one day pass, on to her own children.

In some crazy wonderful way it’s like my granddaughter was touched by the great-grandfather she never knew and, perhaps one day, I’ll touch a great-grandchild I’ll never know this side of heaven. Whether it’s the simple magic of a mirage or an irrefutable truth about life, threads of those who went before us will weave their way into those who come after us.

This is the miraculous, and sobering, thought I’m pondering this morning.


I’m a writer, reader, and creative. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things and the thin places where faith intersects.
  1. Your grand-daughter has inherited your curiosity too, it would seem.

  2. Dear Linda, I’ve often pondered this web of generational relationship. I’ve done that when I’ve thought of death and whether there was anyway I’d live on because of having no children. Like you, I’ve become aware that the children I do know listen and remember. And to be remembered fondly must be one of the greatest gifts of life. I’m glad this happened for you. Peace.

  3. How blessed you are Linda! Like Dee I too have thought about what I can pass on to the next generation because of having no children. However, I suppose that any wisdom that I can pass on to other’s children or even to the parents of those children might in some way be my contribution to those who come after me.

    1. Ruth, and Dee– I believe we touch the lives of people all the time sometimes without even being aware of it. A kind word, a special gesture, even ordinary encounters have the potential to change the trajectory of someone’s day and, ultimately, their life. We touch someone else’s life and they carry it forward–and so on, and so on. I have no doubt that something of you will be passed on to those who follow us.

  4. Isn’t this so great Linda? Getting that text? There are times that my girls, now as adults, make mention of the everyday that they remember and try repeat. It kinda puts a lump in my throat and makes my heart burst at the same time. I believe we have made an imprint Linda. 🙂

    1. These reminders do fill our hearts to bursting, don’t they Celine? We are blessed indeed!

  5. Some of my most precious memories are just quiet times, having a conversation with a grandson. Simple things. I may not always remember what we talked about, but the feeling I had.

    1. Those simple, quiet moments are most precious, aren’t they? I love how you said that some memories are simply feelings–that’s exactly it!

  6. I love full cycle stories like this. We just never know when our words or actions will influence someone else. Lovely that we can pass on our traditions or special moments with future generations.

    1. That’s it exactly, Kathy. We just never know, do we? Often it’s the simple and ordinary moments that hold some nugget that will be carried forward into the next generation. So cool!

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