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.