Monday, June 20, 2016

Thirty Years Later

 Our son Joel was born June 17, 1986.

  This is a picture of my mother, Grandma Lucille, holding him.  Joel was only a few weeks old and Mom was sixty-six.  

When Mom and Dad came up to the hospital to see me after Joel was born, I remember Mom holding Joel and fighting back happy tears.  

"I never thought I'd say this, but I'm in love," Mom said as she carefully cuddled the precious bundle.  "He's just perfect."

I know how Mom felt; it was the same way I felt after Audrey was born; she is so tiny, so perfect.  Mom's emotions brought tears to my eyes then, thirty years ago.   When I was growing up, my parents never told me they loved me.  I knew they did, but it wasn't said out loud.  When Mom decreed she was in love with my newborn son, I was deeply touched, this was not a word she ever used lightly.

I went on to parent my sons much differently, and I told them I loved them every day.  Mom was always a little uncomfortable, "Don't you think you're using that word a little too much?"

Mom was referring to the four letter 'L' word, of course.  

My reply was, "No, I don't think a child can ever hear they are loved too often."

"My parents never told me that," she said.  "If you had a roof over your head and food on the table, you were supposed to know they cared about you.  They didn't have to say it all the time."

Mom's (and my late father's) generations came through extremely hard times; both of my parents had childhoods worse than any Dickens novel ever written.   They had to grow up quickly and leave tender accoutrements behind for there was no place in their lives for feelings.  There were only the facts,  life was hard and you had to toughen up to survive.  

Being raised on a farm a child learns early the animals are not pets; there is life and the stark reality of death, these facts remain unaltered.  Tears don't help anything, best to leave them unshed for they only show weakness.  

My father was tough and hated what he called 'bawling', but at times scenes on television shows would touch some unguarded emotions in him.   I was stunned a few times to see tears trickling down his sunburned face at the dinner table.   I felt uncomfortable then, as if I'd intruded on him in a very private moment.  I'd quickly avert my gaze when his hard-calloused hand wiped the tell-tale tears away.  

 My mother was tougher; indeed, I've only see her cry twice in my life.  I, on the other hand, was weak, so weak.  I cried easily as a little child and have yet to overcome the tendency.  Apparently the Tear-less Gene skipped a generation or something. 
 On Sunday, Abby and Joel brought baby Audrey to meet Great Grandma Lucille, now almost 96 years old. 

 And with a sense of deja vu,  I heard what she said. 

"She's perfect, so beautiful, I'm in love."  I could tell Mom was crying.

I was supposed to be taking pictures, and I tried, but I had to leave the room for a bit. 

It's hard to focus a camera when you're crying happy tears. 


Peonies & Magnolias said...

Awesome!!! So glad she can enjoy Audrey! I've done the same with my daughter growing up and also now Bella, my granddaughter. It's amazing how different ways are now compared to my Mother's generation. I hope you have a great week.

Karen said...

Sandy, I know how much you love your beautiful granddaughter, Bella. I'm very glad Mom had a chance to hold Audrey, it meant the world to her. :-)

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Dear, dear Karen ~ Happy tears are good tears! How wonderful to hear your Mom say the same thing about her great-granddaughter as she said for your son thirty years ago.

God's blessings on you all!

Love & hugs ~ FlowerLady

Karen said...

Oh, yes Rainey, it was such a precious memory and moment. Audrey made a huge impression on Mom, she remembers the visit perfectly. :-)

Stephen Andrew said...

What a wonderful story! Well I can relate to you as just about anything makes me tear up. But we're not major I Love Youers.
Probably because we're always too busy crying and hugging about something! My grandpa on my dad's side had a very very tough farm childhood and he pushed back against it hard by being a very loving and supportive father. It only takes one generation to turn that corner and it must feel good that you've done that! So happy your mom gets to fall in love all over again!

Indie said...

Aw, how beautiful! I grew up in a very stoic family where we didn't cry either. After I became pregnant though, I think all the hormones opened the floodgates, and now anything related to babies and children is what gets me teary-eyed. What a beautiful baby, and I know you are all so very happy!

Missy, John & Ros said...

So beautiful. There is no greater joy in my book

Donna@GWGT said...

This was a really touching post. I too came from a family where the parents never showed affection or said they loved us. Most of the time we did not even see them until dinner time, then that was the only time as they watched TV and we retreated to our rooms. You are very blessed to have a wonderful, loving family. Also blessed to have longevity too - 96 is amazing.

Karen said...

Stephen, I think it's wonderful your family isn't a bunch of 'love-youers' but shows affection in hugs and tears and togetherness. I certainly did break the mold on showing emotion with my generation, egads, sometimes I wonder if I'm the Designated Bawler?

Karen said...

Thank you, Indie! Oh, I know, I cry at the drop of a hat, especially now after menopause. What is with our Stoic Families? Don't they know the value of a good cry? Ah, but we love them anyway.

Karen said...

Thank you Ros! Yes, Audrey is a beautiful blessing.

Karen said...

Donna, I find it truly sad how many people grew up without hearing the 'L' word. Your parents missed out on getting to know you, what a shame. I don't know why the older generation felt it was so taboo to tell their offspring they loved them.

I know I was/am far from the perfect parent, there's always mistakes because I'm human, but I wanted my sons to know I loved them no matter what else I didn't do right. (And there were lots of things, ha.)

Garden Fancy said...

Karen, those pictures are worth more than a thousand words -- even your thoughtful and well-chosen words. What a lovely memory to preserve for your granddaughter. I have a photo of four generations of the women in my family taken when I was a baby, and I made sure to do the same for my daughter while we still had my grandmother. Thanks so much for sharing this beautiful story and photos with us. Take care, -Beth

Beth @ PlantPostings said...

Oh gosh, your story is so touching! I don't know the answers to the "to cry or not to cry" question. But my feeling is, God gave us that tool to help us deal with excessive joy and pain. Sometimes I cry to easily; other times I hold back the tears too long to the point they will not take "no" for an answer ... and I feel much better after releasing them. My Mom rarely cried/cries. My Dad cries nearly every day. A bit nontraditional, but it taught me that some people are naturally more openly emotional than others. I am high on the emo scale. Blessings on you and your beautiful family--obviously, there is much love there. :)