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Monday, October 11, 2010

Losing Parents/Grandparents Too Soon

I recently joined the From Left to Write online book club.  The club is unique in that instead of reviewing a book, we relate the book to a personal experience.  

The book we read for October was The Kids Are All Right, a memoir written by the four Welch children, Diana, Liz, Amanda and Dan who lost both of their parents during their childhood and teenage years.

The book is told in alternating voices of the four siblings and each describes their experiences growing up without their parents.  Despite the bumps and heartbreak they had along the way, their love and deep connection to each other, in the end, helps them to come out all right.

I connected with the book immediately because my husband lost both of his parents.  His father died when he was 27 and his mother passed when he was 33.

While my husband was definitely older than the Welch children when his parents died, he still has suffered a great loss.  We all have.  My four kids and I never met my husband’s father.   We know what he looks like from pictures and we have an idea of the type of man he was through my husband’s stories but that is all.  We will never have first-hand knowledge of the man my husband called “dad.”

Fortunately, I did know and love my husband’s mom and I am grateful for the short time she had with my family.  She was an amazing person who lit up the room.  She was a dedicated teacher who adored her four grandchildren and she had endless energy.  

She was a very hands-on grandparent who would play for hours and hours with the kids.  She would have imaginary picnics with our son on our living room floor, she would have tea parties with my daughter and she’d chase our toddling twins around our house as they giggled and squealed.

Unfortunately, my kids did not get to experience her amazing qualities for as long as I wish they could have--they were 5, 3 & 18 months old when she passed.  Now that they are older, they ask more questions about the grandfather they never met and the grandmother they barely remember.  The want to know more but are tentative to ask because they don’t want to make their own father sad.   

My husband is always happy to answer their questions, it helps keep his parents' memories alive.  If he feels sadness, he doesn’t let that show.  Although he doesn’t talk about his parent’s passing very much, I know that it is still painful for him and times like these make us both miss his parents all the more. 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, with no obligation.  If you would like to read more posts inspired by The Kids Are All Right visit From Left To Write.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the thoughtful post Kristina! I had this amazing realization one month after my husband's mother died: Gideon and I were engaged, the wedding was set for the following May and I realized after Sylvia died in December that none of our parents would be at our wedding. My dad died first, followed by my mom. I was 16. I was 37 when I met Gideon and his father had already died, his mother was the last parent standing. Or rather sitting. She was a stroke victim and I remember being so nervous about meeting her for the first time... how would we communicate? Turns out Sylvia did not need words (though she did say one phrase over and over again to anyone who entered the room. It was I LOVE YOU! She literally was bursting with love and life even though she was wheelchair bound and otherwise speechless.) Gideon and I got married on May 30th surrounded by our siblings and friends and extended family. and even though none of our parents were there to witness our happy union, I cannot help but think they all raised a glass of champagne to us, together, in heaven. That thought makes their loss less painful truth be told. And the other thing that brings me comfort is that even though our future children won't ever meet their grandparents... I like to think they'll see bits of my mom and my dad in me, and my siblings. And bits of Gideon's parents in him and his sister. I do think we live on in one another! I really do. Thanks so much for reading our book, and sharing your thoughts here! All best, liz welch


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