Take the one we worried about throughout high school, sometimes wondering if he would survive his teens - now in a very creative professional program at the top of his class. As my grandfather would say, “That such a thing can happen!” That someone can fall in love with their own abilities and find their path. Something inside you shifts with that shift, that change. All the sad experience that age must assimilate moves over and makes room for joy.
But he is not the only one. There is the one who struggled with being in this world, in this body, the one who presented such difficulties, and received such love. And now? Straight A’s, captain of the football team - and so considerate! And the one who had tutors from an early grade, had problems with subjects and strategies, who is now in his first year at university. Each feels like a victory over those who say that it is all there, all given, all wired - that change is a myth we hold on to.
Oh, and speaking of change. There is the adult so motivated by the desire, the need for change, who emerged as a loving father and husband. The three brothers, all “singularly skilled” (the new phrase I just learned), all successful by any criteria - and all Fathers. One who helps others become successful parents, one who learned to be a father, and one special individual who learned to father - less.
And oh those mothers! The one who retained humor and pleasure while struggling with and holding her boys. The one whose daughter wants to grow up to be just like her, and the one who raised her child alone while teaching full time - and could open to the man she created a new family with.
I learn by watching, and the emergence is so powerful. The one who discovered cooking, who spent a month on a farm in Scandinavia, who will major in history - all those dimensions! And the one whose talents and abilities cross the boundaries of arts and ideas, waiting to see what synthesis he will make of it all. And there is the so-very-sweet, lovely-souled and smart boy who excels on land and snow and water, able-bodied on any surface. And next year the girl will begin high-school, and the restrictions of middle-school will disappear, and she will be able to thrive in all the ways I know she can. And the one who plays two instruments, is very bright - and knew how to be his own person at a much earlier age than I did.
I certainly don't want to imply perfection, or ease, or total compatibility, or humans free from issues and problems. I am so aware of what a difficult world the young ones have been born into, and what they will have to face.
But how fortunate I am to be a part of this ancient process called family - not through biology or lineage, but through marriage. It has not always been easy. In fact it has often been my biggest challenge.
I wrote the following poem a year ago - it is the last two lines that retain the most truth:
Grandchildren of my husband
a watch a book a custom is what I leave you
I used to hide candied creatures so your visits began with treasure
how well I know some of your worlds how fidgety I became in others
Step is the word in front of my role
it means one step at a time it means stop after each step
and step to the side
It’s a dance like the rumba
imagine the men in ruffled shirts the congos the bembe drum
imagine the dancer in flounced skirt
She steps forward stops
steps to the side
she is what the music makes
as love makes step