Sunday, June 4, 2017

Parenthood: Week 207 – Krushing It

Dear Ollie,

Right now you are in your bedroom sleeping peacefully. You had your 4th birthday party this morning at the Skokie Exploratorium. At first you were a little overwhelmed but you ended up having a great time. In the afternoon you played with your friend Betty, while your me and your mom were at a funeral for Aunt Krysia.

I’m writing this letter to you because there are things you need to know about your family that you can’t understand right now, and there are thoughts in my head that I fear will be lost in time that are important for you to know. These thoughts and feelings will be here waiting for you when you are ready and need to understand what Aunt Krysia means to your life.

There have been so many times I’ve felt like an outsider in my life. While I hope that these times are you are few, I know that you will face these times and they will be difficult. However, these feelings are sometimes and with kindness can be overcome and lead to something amazing.

When I first met your grandfather’s extended family it was very intimidating. There were more names than I could remember, and while everyone was very nice, the room was very loud. After all of the initial introductions, it was hard to know who to talk to, what conversations I could join. Before the apprehension to set in, Aunt Krysia came up to me, invited me to sit down with her and we talked.

Aunt Krysia asked about my family, my work, and my heritage. She responded to me like a person fascinated by a wonderful book, wanting to know more and being excited about everything she learned. Here she was spending her time at this family event talking to someone who was at that time, just a boyfriend of one of her nieces.

She never had to say that accepted me for who I was and approved of me being part of the family, she showed me that every time she saw me.

While that moment was amazing what followed the next fourteen years of our relationship was incredible. Aunt Krysia always made a point to talk to me during family events, never forgetting details from our previous conversations, asking about my parents, my life and joyfully sharing her wisdom and life experiences with me. At my wedding, she was the one, language barriers be damned, who talked to my Taiwanese grandparents and my other relatives.

Aunt Krysia understood that family is not a closed group of people connected by blood. She saw family as something that grew through love, that only had meaning through actively making others feel included and valued.  For Aunt Krysia what was different about me, my heritage, and my religion was what would make her family and her life better. It felt like she loved me despite our differences and because of them all at the same time.

Aunt Krysia was one of the first people that you met when you came into this world. She was so happy to hold you. As one of the biggest supporters of me and your mother’s relationship, her joy in holding you was proof that by being kinder than she needed to be, and sharing love with us was what made us a family. It seemed so fitting that the same person who welcomed me into her family, would welcome be one of the first people to welcome you into the world.

I am proud to call Aunt Krysia my aunt.

Never hesitate to ask about your Aunt Krysia.  The stories that you hear will only make you feel more proud of your family and your own heritage.  In these stories and in your heart she will always be with you as she is with all of us who were blessed to share our lives with her.

In that feeling of love and belonging that only comes from being with family you will feel Aunt Krysia.

Goodnight Ollie,

Love,
Dad

6/4/17

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