Updated: Jun 24, 2020
Imagine spending one day with your great great great grandchildren. What would you want them to know?
Yesterday as I was staring into the eyes of my beautiful five week old granddaughter my stomach started to knot. 'The world's so scary. How will Mackenzie be happy, safe and productive?' I know every generation has the same concerns, but today feels different. We and our planet are more fragile than ever. This realization takes a huge emotional toll.
I took a calming breath.
In her eyes I see my life reflected back. My hopes and dreams, failures and successes, the love and pain, the passion to inspire and empower. I want her to know how living with Multiple Sclerosis turned me into a warrior, and helped me fight for what matters in life. I'd like her to understand resiliency, determination, self love and empathy and be mindful of them. You learn that mostly from people who love you.
My story is not particularly unique. There are dozens of self help books, memoirs, and articles out there. But imagine those stories coming from your own ancestor, who anticipates your reaction and your questions. Someone you never met who becomes familiar —an influence.
I never knew my grandfather George. I always wished he could appear in my kitchen,where we have all our best family discussions, so we could have a good family chat. I'd ask him about what he believed, what motivated him, what were his dreams and fears? Was he satisfied?
He came to Canada from the Middle East at age fifteen. Before that, they say he lived with his mother and brother in a cave in the hills of Lebanon. How did that shape him? What was it like? Although penniless, he convinced the ship's captain to let them take the perilous journey providing he cook for the crew and passengers. Once here, with no English or French, he figured out how to survive as a street peddler.
How did he make that work? Wasn't he scared or lonely? Who helped and influenced him? My father, one of George's seven children, always told us stories about his father's fierce devotion to his family, to provide and protect, not only in his lifetime but for generations afterwards. A hundred years later the business bearing his name is an industry leader, still run by family. The compound he built in the Laurentians is still filled with cousins and new generations of Courey's.
George is a family legend. We all know the landmarks of his life, but what about how he felt? He was respected for his integrity, kindness and generosity, but what made him that way? He left a material legacy, but what wisdom did he acquire? Sometimes I feel connected to him, and sometimes he's a puzzle. I wish I had more to go on.
Especially now as I look into precious Mackenzie's eyes, relishing every moment knowing that all this is fleeting. It's new and exciting. What I want for her above all is a healthy self image. With it she'll grow emotional intelligence, and hopefully live a meaningful and happy life.
Soon enough she'll start speaking and thinking. We'll have deep discussions about everything! I want her to benefit from my mistakes and insights, and one day pass her own wisdom down to her grandchildren.
Then perhaps, I'll appear in their kitchen for a nice family chat!