Friday, August 8, 2014

Family Connections

JJ, our year-old grandson, and Dee haven’t too long moved back home when he gets sick.  The route our geographically challenged daughter lights upon in her trek to the doctor’s office passes Paradise North Cemetery on West Montgomery Road.  Slowing and glancing briefly to her right, Dee performs a personal silent ritual in remembrance of two sisters buried there in Baby Land.  Out of the corner of her eye, from his perch in the back seat of the truck, she spots her son smiling and waving into the graveyard at….someone or something he seems to feel connected with.

For over ten years almost all of my reasonably direct routes between home and work utilized all or some of West Montgomery Road, and sadly the daily hustle and bustle of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness had dulled my sensitivities, sensibilities, maybe even my plain old common sense relating to the cemetery and its special occupants.  As circumstance has altered my situation and habits, my only occasional sojourns to West Montgomery elicit bittersweet reflection and what-ifs.  That reflection is my personal silent ritual.  I should probably start telling Dayna and Devin that JJ says “Hi.”

Dayna and Devin would be JJ’s teenage aunts.  Teenagers!  Holy Moley.  When my Dad first got to know my step-kids (Dee and her younger brother), they were 9- and 7-years old.  He complimented them, then cautioned me, saying, “Pretty soon they’ll be teenagers and there will be times when you’re going to hate them.  But they do turn back into real people.”  Proved to be useful, often reassuring advice, and many’s the parent of a teenage student with whom I’ve shared it.  The frustration of raising adolescents reminds me of another of Dad’s expressions.  About unpleasantries he would sometimes say, “That’s just like hitting yourself in the head with a hammer, ‘cause it feels so good when you stop!”

By the way, JJ is nicknamed after his great-grandfather, John Joseph Sullivan, Jr.  JJ actually has more names already than he’s ever gonna need.  He’ll proudly tell you that he’s Jayden Michael Walter, but legally he’s still Jonathan Ryan Prewitt, Jr., even though Sr. (ironically not JJ’s biological father) has not been in the picture since the previously mentioned move back home.  Names and namesakes notwithstanding, the less than five pound bundle of joy who prematurely joined us three years ago now is emerging more and more with his own personality and peccadilloes.  As fond of and fascinated by him as I am, I don’t want to repeat my West Montgomery folly, when I allowed something of great significance to just blend in with a bunch of other generic scenery.  I want, almost to the point of obsession, my grandson to know why he’s called JJ.