“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.