Sunday, September 6, 2009

Lost in translation

Over the last couple of months my family and I have been cleaning out the years of savings and collections of my grandmother's house.  I cannot decide which is worse; the funeral itself or the time traveling I do each time I walk into her home. All the memories flood over me, the smells, the pictures, and her extensive jewelery collection still reside in the same place as if she were just out for awhile. I mean there are some entertaining pieces of my grandmother that we have discovered that we never knew. For instance my grandmother loved decorative paper towels. So in a file case, we found folders and folders of paper towel with Christmas ornamentation to jolly looking bears filed away.  However, one of my most treasured finds on these cleaning bonanzas was in an old Reebok box. This is very fitting because as long as I can remember my grandmother wore these white Reebok tennis shoes that were circa early 1980s.
Before I describe the contents of this box perhaps we should discuss the relevance to my life. I am for what my mom would describe as a very independent person. Yet, my mother feels that I would best be suited with a man firmly attached to my side. I mean  it has gotten so bad that the last time we went to a funeral my mother introduced me as " This is my daughter Jen, she likes boys."  My grandmother too was very consumed in my extracurriculars, Do you have a boyfriend? Have you met any lookers? And this pretty much sums up the interrogation I would receive as I came to visit my family for any holiday. While I am perfectly fine  and secure with my single status, I am aware of the angst it has caused my family. 
Yet as I opened the old Reebok box, I felt as if I understood the incessant interrogation and questioning for all those years. I have often prayed for just one more letter from my grandmother and what I received were hundreds. As I fingered through the old letters, I saw that they were dated 1945. As I peeled the antiquated stationary out of the envelope what I had found were love letters between my grandma and grandpa during WWII. Not only did my grandmother write my grandpa everyday, but the love that is shared on these pieces of paper is priceless. Perhaps it is the phenomenon of young love; the vibrancy, the infatuation, or maybe just the sheer fact that they were not sure if they would ever see each other again that gave each letter so much depth. I reflect back to my grandparents as I knew them, and it just makes me smile, because the love in the letters was portrayed so differently than the love I witnessed growing up as a child.
I often wonder if the love of today has somehow gotten lost in translation. I mean from random hook ups  to makeout friends has the love of old been replaced with the instant gratification of today. In one of the letters  from my grandfather, he writes "Melba I miss you just like the stars would miss the skies." While I am pretty sure I would laugh my head off if anyone ever said this to me, there is something so real and genuine in the letters my grandfather writes.  I supposed it is the sincerity of his love that I feel is so absent in today's world. I feel like the words "I love you" are flippantly thrown around and that a sense of security rests in the option of divorce and separation. 
I now realize that the questioning and concern that my grandmother had for me was only her hopes that I might experience the same kind of love that she did. The love that every woman deserves.  We all grow up learning of prince charming and how he sweeps the girl of his dreams off her feet, and  looking back now I can see in  my grandmother's eyes that she had known this kind of love. I think about their fifty some years of marriage and wonder am I capable of a love that lasts a lifetime. Better yet, would  I recognize it if it hit me in the face. 
An old friend and I were chatting about this very topic at brunch. We decided that love is so different than it used to be. Love was a matter of life or death during our grandparents era, and today it a concern of availability, your hotness factor, and what you are willing to put out. While I am far from a cynic, I  must ask the question is the love of old a dying art? I am not saying that we should all go out and demand red roses and love letters, what I do ask is that you be cognizant of your motives.  The optimist in me is forced to believe that genuine love, the kind my grandparents knew, still exists. The problem is like with any great art, it is shaded and contrasted in many lights and thus takes the right eye to fully appreciate it beauty and meaning.  Thus, Happy Hunting ....

3 comments:

Sarah Butler said...

jennifer, this is GORGEOUS! what a lovely, heartfelt post. melba would be so proud :) happy hunting, m'dear, happy hunting :)

Phil said...

You are amazing and so insightful
<3 carolyn

Betsy B said...

Thanks for sharing :)