Regret by
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I don’t have a fantastic story about bonding with my grandparents.  Unfortunately, being of Japanese descent, there is a solid line between the generations.  The younger are told to “speak only when spoken to” and are not encouraged to be inquisitive about an elder’s history, perspective, or opinion.  It is seen as disrespectful.  So, I never asked my grandmothers, “how did you and Grandpa meet?”  “Were you in love?”  “What was Jichan (my paternal grandfather, who passed away when I was 2 years old) like?”  “What did Grandpa like to do before he had a stroke?”

The sad thing is, even though that is how we were raised (by our parents), I think my grandparents really would have loved to tell those stories.  And I never asked.  It is one of my biggest regrets.

I hope my nieces and nephews don’t make the same mistake, but honestly, they will.  I continue to see the generational barriers between them and my mother.  They have no interest in knowing what she was like as a little girl, how she my my father met, or what her biggest regrets are.  Truth is, my mother (and those of her generation) are hopelessly insular and still stuck in their old ways.  Perhaps the next generation will come to regret that generational chasm as I have and break through it.  But perhaps not.  Maybe my mother will come to realize that she separates herself from her grandchildren in that all-too-tangible way.  But probably not.

I plan to try to understand my mother a little more this year.  She’s open that way with me, at least.  Maybe I could share her stories after she’s gone and maybe that will allay my regret for not knowing (and not asking) much about my grandparents from them while they were still alive.

 

Profile photo of Dean Ebesu Dean Ebesu


Tags: regret, grandparents, parents
Characterizations: moving

Comments

  1. Profile photo of John Zussman John Zussman says:

    I think your grandparents’ reticence is a story in itself. But this is exactly why we started Retrospect! Maybe you can “interview” your mom on the premise that you have to write a story about her. Maybe she can even tell you some stories about your grandparents. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Profile photo of Susan Susan says:

    This moved me. For many years we lived next door to a lovely, reserved Japanese couple. Not until my son naively knocked on their door one day and asked to interview them for a school project did I learn that they had been incarcerated at Tule Lake during WWII. They did not volunteer information about themselves, but to their credit, they were very open with my son and their stories came out. As we get older, the sense of urgency grows to capture the stories of our elders.

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