Reflecting on the weekend, I realized this fortune is very one sided. Of course, my kids are nothing if not indulged by their Ritz Aunts and Uncles. There are plenty of my siblings and my kids not only see them as often as I can make happen, but they also have phone calls and cards and sometimes Skype conversations to keep them connected. My kids love my siblings, each one for unique reasons. But my children’s and my link to the history of the Ritz and Baker clans ends abruptly with my generation.
My father died when I was four. My mother was from California. Due to death and geography, my connections to the extended relatives of each of my parents growing up were sparse. My mother died when I was thirty. It seemed I was just old enough to start appreciating the lineage and history that older generations provide. When she died, we seemingly lost even the little connection we had left and now that I have kids to pass legacy on to, I am really feeling the void.
Thank goodness for Facebook as it has revived at least a cyber relationship to cousins on either side. But that renewed connection just makes the ache for real life contact even stronger. I see pictures of the kids fishing in Alaska and I want my kids to join them. I hear stories of California outings or holiday photos and I want my family to be part of them. I get emails with diet encouragement from places like Minnesota and I want to celebrate our weight loss in person. I know there are cousins with small kids just a few hours away and yet we barely know each other.
Mostly, what I would love is to find out where I came from. I want to know my dad. I want to know my mom before she was my mom. I want my kids to know that their history extends far beyond Silver Spring, MD to places like The Mission District and West Hazleton High. I think my dad was a pretty great guy. I’d like someone to confirm (or deny) that. I am certain my mom had a whole lot of stories to share from before we were born. I am lucky that I got a few out of her, but I know my Aunt Jan has more. I have seen first hand that the extended clan of cousins on both sides is fun and kind and eerily familiar looking. I want more time with all of them. I want my kids to know them.
I want to hop in an RV and head to Alaska, by way of Delaware and Pennsylvania and Minnesota and Arizona and California. I want to laugh-in person with Tracey and ‘Nell over our diets. I want my kids to meet their kids and now their grand kids. I want to listen to live music with Helen and have Faith meet Ava with whom I am sure she shares a kindred spirit. I want Faith to meet Ava’s mom-to see if she has a crush on her just like I did when I was young. I want Roxie to teach my kids all the things I never can because my knowledge of wildlife ends at jellyfish. Then I want to take a walk with her and laugh about the madness of raising kids. I remember wishing I could be her friend when we were young in a barn in Minnesota. As a grownup, I still wish I could be her friend in Wasilla.
I want Jan and Jack to tell us about my grandparents. Jan is a historian by nature. I am dying for her to share what she knows. Then, I want to share with them about my mom on the East Coast. I want to show my children the beautiful tapestry of their ancestry that is out in the world. I want them (and me) to hear the stories and meet the people that make up our family. When your parents die, you lose a part of yourself. I desperately want to get the part back that I can pass on to my kids. I don’t want my parents’ portion of Ritz and Baker to end with me.
We are called The Traveling Circus. Maybe now is the time for us to take our show on the road.
This post was inspired by the book, If You Knew Suzy by Katherine Rosman. You can read this and other fantastic posts inspired by Ms. Rosman’s work on From Left to Write a website for lovers of literature. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher for review.
Dr. Louis Voigt from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital in NYC is featured in Ms. Rosman’s story. He is the kind of doctor you want on your team.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.