On the Inside Looking In

Five generations.

Five generations. (Photo credit: Veronica Foale)

Mary sits quietly and alone at her table in the pavilion. She watches as youngsters run around Riverside Park, as her son socializes with his sons and sons-in-law, as her granddaughter, aided by her friends, sister, and sister-law makes all the preparations. She does not offer to help. She long ago got bored with “thanks mom, but we got this.” So she just sits, and watches, as her family gathers to celebrate the high school graduation of her eldest great-grandson, Peter.

Time was such events were held in her big back yard, but when Willy passed William Junior helped her sell the house, using the money to pay for her nurse. He payed for the addition onto his home so she could live with him and his Nancy. They have been so very kind, and Nancy even suggests paying for the nurse out of their own pocket so her money can go to the Sisters like Mary always hoped. The Sisters were so helpful when they first came here.

Now no one has time for her. They all take just a few seconds for the obligatory kiss on the forehead and “you look lovely today Nana Mary.” She understands. They have their friends, cousins, uncles, aunts, and so many others to play with. Even little Brynn, Peter’s sister, who normally sits with her for hours begging her to share tales of what it was like growing up in the middle of The Blitz is too busy trying to get the attention of Peter’s best friend’s brother. It is as it should be.

She appreciates her place in the family now. It hurts some time. She misses Willy so much, and the friends they made when they first moved to America after the war. The last of her generation, Mary has no one who understands the importance of all those stories she tells Brynn, not really. Rapt attention and curiosity  are nice, but the quiet, solemn nods reminded her she was not alone.

Really, though, she is not alone. She smiles as wide as her eighty plus year old mouth will allow. Looking out over the generations after her, watching them take so many of the steps she did, seeing the pride in her granddaughter’s eyes, the eagerness mixed with anxiety in her son’s, Mary realizes that she and Willy made this together, and in a way, he is always here.

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2 thoughts on “On the Inside Looking In

  1. Hi there! I stumbled across your blog after searching “creative writing”! Both my parents were the youngest of a long line of siblings so my grandparents were much much older than us and they passed away before I ever really got to meet them. Its really special that your family has so many generations – I’d have so many questions to ask my grandparents if they were still alive!

    • Thank you! Actually “Nana Mary” is a fictional character, but she is based loosely on my grandmother. Gram Noble would be 101 if she were still with us today.
      I came from a huge family too. My dad was 9 of 10 and my mom 3 of 6 with the first three real close and age and the next three kind of spread out. So I have an uncle that is only three years older than I on one side, and a cousin nearly as old as my dad on the other!

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