Some of my earliest memories of my dad involve waiting for him. Standing on the shady sidewalk outside our house, looking down the street for a glimpse of the massive black hood of his 1955 Chrysler sedan. Sitting around the dinner table, his empty chair conspicuously vacant. Lying in bed at night listening for the sound of the back door to open. My dad was a busy man, like most men of his generation. Coming back to the states after three years at war, taking advantage of a prosperous time in this country, he was building a business and an active social life and community life.
When the topic of ancestry arises, I usually joke that I’m a “real American,” meaning my gene pool reflects a melting pot of Middle Eastern and Western European ingredients, with a splash of Jewish and a pinch of Native American thrown in for added variety. I took a DNA test a few years ago, not because I was terribly curious, but mostly because I wanted to have a written copy of my own personal DNA recipe.
I expected a pretty clear 50/50 split between Armenian (my dad was second generation American, born of two native Armenian parents) and a predominant mixture of Scotch-Irish from my mother’s side.
The results weren’t exactly like that, though, and I was puzzled.
Today my beautiful mother would have been 90 years old. She wouldn’t like me making a fuss about that number, because she didn’t like being “old.” And she never seemed really old to me, despite the physical infirmities that interfered with her mobility and independence during the last few years of her life. She was sharp and quick witted, up to date on current events, and interested in the modern world around her - young at heart, as the saying goes.
It was crazy windy here yesterday. March made like a Lion, and roared up a storm. Our utility company reported more outages than any other time in history, and says it will take up to a week to restore power for everyone. Trees are down all over, schools and businesses are closed.
It was a mess. But all the while, the sun shone beautifully and there was nary a cloud in the sky.
On the night I was born, 61 years ago today, it was crazy windy as well. My mother loved to tell that story, of the wind whistling around the windows on the top floor of the hospital. Of the way the large window by her bed rattled and shook until she was afraid it would crash into a million pieces. “There was thunder and lighting and rain pouring down all night,” she said. “I was a nervous wreck!” By morning, though, the wind had calmed, the sun was shining, and I had come into the world, red-faced, screaming, and with a headful of dark, wavy curls.
Our house is full this week, with our son and his family visiting us from Texas. Our grandson's bright and bubbly laughter is a welcome intrusion in these normally quiet spaces.
They have been visiting us annually each summer for the past four years, and there are certain things that must be done during each visit to Grammy and Papa’s house - things like a trip to the “bread store” in downtown Northville and walking the dogs to get the daily mail. There are certain toys that must be in their accustomed spaces - the parking garage on one corner of the coffee table, a stack of books on the other. In just four short summers we have already established traditions and rituals that he remembers and counts on.