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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Grandchildren and Grandparents

Before I begin this post today, let me first say that I have nothing against my brother, in fact I love him dearly.  At times, what I am going to say may seem harsh, but it is not intended to be, I am merely looking back over our lives up until now and reflecting on how certain events beyond our control have had an impact on how we react now.  As you might have guessed by the title, this is all in reference to my brother and I and our grandparents.  Let me first set up what I have noticed over the past few years as my brother and I, and concurrently my grandparents, have grown older.  There seems to be a difference between our attitudes towards our grandparents, one that is mostly beyond our control as I have come to see it.  From my point of view (and I may be totally wrong) there is less compassion on my brother's part for our grandparents than I feel that I have.  As I mentioned, I could be totally wrong because he may have that compassion but simply feels the need to not express it or share it with them and others.  I would almost call it more of an apathy, but that may be pushing it too far.  I don't think it is equal either.  I feel that he might have more compassion for our Dad's parents than he does for our Mom's mother.  Perhaps that is because he lives with Baba (mother's side) and not with Babci and Dziadziu (dad's side).  To put it as simply as possible, without labeling it too much, there seems to be more "distance" between my brother and our grandparents. 

I have just recently come to theorize as to why this may be, although I may have known it all along without being able to distinctly put my finger on it.   Let me first say that I don't think it is because my brother lacks compassion or empathy.  As I mentioned before, however, we are seven years apart and with that discrepancy in age, there is a big difference in how we both interacted with our grandparents when we were younger.  When I was younger, Baba used to watch me at my Aunt's house for a while before my mother quit her job to stay home with me.  I was there for a good part of the day and inevitably formed a bond with her.  Even when she moved away, she used to come visit for a week every summer, and we used to go visit her in North Carolina for a week as well, the bond being kept alive to a certain extent.  With Babci and Dziadziu, I remember spending quite a bit of time with them, Dziadziu playing with me in the backyard of their Cape Cod home and going for walks with me down the abandoned railroad tracks in Chicopee.  Also, I used to go visit them, spend a few days with them, and they, at the time, would be able to drive down to my parents house to spend time with us.  By the time my brother was old enough to remember his childhood, Baba was in Florida and rarely came to visit and Babci and Dziadziu were also getting older, not able to play as easily in the backyard or go for walks.  They also weren't able to drive down to my parents house as easily.  I don't feel that there was as strong of a bond established between my brother and any of our grandparents, mostly Baba as he saw the least of her.  That lack of personal bonding time between my brother and our grandparents I feel had a distinct effect on how he reacts towards them now.  Do I believe he loves them, absolutely, and I am not questioning his degree of love at all.  There simply seems to be less compassion for their situations now, and less empathy for what they are going through. 

So why does all of this matter?  In the overall scheme of things, it really doesn't.  I think perhaps it is mostly an effort on my part to figure out why there is more distance between my brother and our grandparents than I have (beyond the age distance obviously).  Furthermore, the blame can't be placed on anyone or any event.  It is simply the way life turned out and the way we must deal with it now.  But by placing my finger on it, recognizing why there is less compassion and empathy on my brother's part, perhaps I can better deal with situations now as our grandparents grow older and deal with more and more health issues.  It is sometimes tough to hear the way my brother reacts towards Baba.  Can she be hard to live with?  Absolutely.  Yet there are times when he seems a little overtly harsh towards her and not understanding of what she is going through.  But then again, that is merely my perspective of things and may not be the whole truth.  Looking back, I feel that it may have even been a little more difficult for my brother to not have that tighter bond with our grandparents than I had.  I don't know what its like from his perspective, but if I tried to put myself in his shoes, I would be a little disappointed that I didn't have that bond with our grandparents.  Then again, perhaps I am over reading things, putting too much emphasis on age differences and bonds between us and grandparents, but it matters from my perspective.  Nothing can be done at this point obviously to change the past or make differences for the future.  The only benefit of theorizing on this is for me to try and better understand what my brother is going through and why he is reacting the way he does towards our grandparents.  I love my  brother and I wouldn't change a thing about our relationship (except make us closer in age).  But giving that we are where we are, I will continue to support and love him, along with my grandparents. 

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