This last weekend I saw my grandparents. I don’t dislike them, but I find them pretty awkward to be around for any long length of time. The biggest reason for the awkwardness I would have to say is the lack of willingness on their part to want to talk about anything personal. There is always something being talked about, but it’s usually something about someone else and never themselves. The generational differences are made evident in the ways that we communicate to each other and especially to those of our own generations.
My grandparents were taught that most things, personal things especially, are not to be discussed with hardly anyone. They are taught to work through the pains of past hurts, instead of stopping to deal with them. One thing that I’ve noticed is that when I ask them something that even remotely seems personal to them, they lock up, shut down, and usually retaliate in anger. I’m not always sure how to deal with that appropriately and therefore usually end up leaving the conversation feeling like there has not been any progress made towards getting to know them any better.
If you were to spend as little as an hour with my grandparents, you would probably know them about as well as I do. That fact alone is heartbreaking to me, for it’s not the way it should be. Family especially, should be able to be there for each other and know things about them that very few others know, however it seems as though over the last century or better, we have lost the part within us that pushes for a real human connection between each other.
Now to make this personal for me. I know that I cannot change how they think. I know that I cannot change how they act. I know that I have little sway over the way they talk and what they talk about. I know that I cannot change their unwillingness to let people get close to them. However, I know that I can change my response to them in those situations. I need to more fully understand what my response has been and why it is the way it is.
My initial response is one of sadness and silence. I do not understand though why I have forced myself to be quiet in those situations. Among anyone else, I would call them on it, but with them, I’m left not feeling like it is something that can be done. I’m trying to figure out in my head why that is. I’m left with this bout of confusion regarding my ideal response to those situations. I often wonder that if we were not blood relatives if we would ever spend time together. Then again, if we were unrelated by genetics, then would I respond the same way? I’m not sure, but either way, I find myself afterwards feeling like I have betrayed myself and have done no one justice.