Friday, June 14, 2013

A Response Uncommon*

I wrote this a while ago, and I've kind of been sitting on it, not sure if it adequately expresses what I want it to, but recent events have brought me back around to it, so I figured I would go ahead and put it up.

My grandmother passed away in February. At her funeral, as is often the case at such events, I was reunited with a family member from my grandfather's side of the family that I hadn't seen in...25+(?) years. I have fond memories of this person from when I was younger--nothing specific, just that he was generally someone that I liked. Throughout the years, he and his wife divorced, I heard things about why, his reputation wasn't exactly stellar, and he sort of disappeared into the ether.  So, when he showed up out of the blue at my grandmother's funeral, I wasn't quite sure how it was all going to play out, but here it is nearly four months later, and I am still struck by our brief interactions.

We did the usual catching up: where are you now, how have you been, what are you doing, etc. I told him I was living in Hawaii and pretty much just enjoying the good life, and his reaction to that is what I can't get over. He was the most genuinely happy-for-me person that I think I have ever encountered. When you tell people you live in Hawaii, there are some fairly standard responses--"Oh, wow, Hawaii, that's so great!" "Oooh, lucky you..." "Hawaii?? When can I come visit?" and it's not that these aren't well-meant and honest, but (and I couldn't have told you this before this meeting) I feel like there's always a bit of subtext attached, like "Oh, wow, Hawaii, that's so great (for you)!" "Oooh, lucky you...(I mean, you know, if you like that kind of thing...)" or "Hawaii?? When can I come visit? (No, seriously, when can I come visit?)". It's not that any of these responses are bad or wrong; heck, they're the kind of responses I often have to others' good news, you know the kind where you are trying to be supportive of somebody else, but maybe they're happy about something that wouldn't necessarily make you happy, or their good news is something you're a little bit jealous of, so you just sort of prattle out the proper responses. But this person was so genuinely happy for me, so genuinely glad to hear that my life was going well and that I was happy. And that was it. It was just so...unfiltered.

Nobody in my family would ever say anything against this person's character as far as him being someone they really liked or someone that they wished well, but everyone is still pretty skeptical about his general reliability (perhaps justifiably so; I can't really speak to that). All I can say is that he is the ONLY person from my grandfather's side of the family that made it to my grandmother's funeral that day**, and I can't think of anyone I've ever met who has been so genuinely happy for somebody else's good fortune. On top of that, he stood up and said some very kind things about my grandmother, about the good times he had out at my grandparents' house as a kid, and how my grandma was always his favorite aunt, which...how can you not love somebody who does that?

Anyway, I just wanted to share that.

This person lives somewhere in the area near where the Royal Gorge fire has been burning this week. There haven't been any reported fatalities, so I'm not worried about his safety, but as I've been watching the Black Forest fire and wondering if my grandparents' home is going to go up in flames (so far, it hasn't), I've been thinking about this person, wondering if he is doing the same, watching the news, wondering if his home will be left standing. I hope not. I wish him all the best. I wish him all the happiness that he had for me, and, really, I couldn't wish much more than that for somebody.
 
*The title for this post was inspired by one of my favorite songs, Jewel's "Life Uncommon".


**For the record, the funeral was scheduled with less than a week's notice, and there was a huge blizzard forecasted to rip through the state that day, so I don't hold it against the rest of the family for not making it. It just makes it that much more meaningful that this person DID make it.

6 comments:

Ali said...

What an incredibly sweet post. I love that you had such a positive, heartfelt interaction with this person and that it's stuck with you. I'm sure he's had his problems, but this is such a great reminder not to judge others based on what we hear, or what they may have done in the past.

Dreamybee said...

Ali-It is a good reminder, and something that's not always easy for me to do.

gravy lessons said...

Thanks for the lovely story and song. What a wonderful moment to have with a long lost relative!

Dreamybee said...

gravy lessons-It really was, and at a moment when such a thing meant so much, too.

Wendy said...

sounds like a good connection. And interesting that you hear the same comments (I would definitely say the same things!), but can tell when the person is genuine. I guess everyone is capable of change (if he indeed was the guy everyone said he was). I will say that my husband, NOT being a rascist, uneducated, close-minded Republican, is very different from all his family members. I bet the perception is that he's quite the blacksheep, though that's not really the whole picture.

Dreamybee said...

Wendy-Wow, I bet your family reunions are a blast! :)