There was a great story in Monday’s blog post … but I was so busy blorching away about myself that I skipped right over it.
A good friend of mine emailed to say she was intrigued by the relationship between my grandparents and “Nana Bea” Townsend, the roommate, co-worker and more-or-less life partner of my cousin Maizie Burt.
(Go back and re-read Monday’s post if you need a refresher on their relationship. That part of it is worth reading, anyway.)
“Of course,” I said to myself. “The story in that post isn’t about you, or Framingham, or greasy egg rolls. It’s about your grandparents and the way they viewed the idea of ‘family.’
“It’s about Nana Bea being welcome in their home decades after her one direct connection to the family died.
“It’s about them taking most of a day to drive her back home to Middle-of-Nowhere, Massachusetts, rather than just putting her back on the Trailways bus she rode in on.
“It’s about a growing family welcoming a solitary older woman into their home at Christmas. You don’t want to canonize your grandparents, or paint Nana Bea as a pathetic figure. But Christmas with the Blumenau family at 1107 Hope Street was probably much nicer than Christmas alone in some apartment in a central Massachusetts mill town.
“It’s about roads not taken. It doesn’t take much to cut ties with a person — to drop out of touch, to ‘forget’ an invitation, to stop calling. Your grandparents did not choose that road. And the path of friendship and commitment may, indeed, be the road less traveled by.
“The story is even about you — a little tiny bit — in the sense that your parents brought you to her little apartment when you were three years old, demonstrating that Nana Bea’s presence in your family reached across generations.
“On a broader scale, your story is about the mysterious ways in which a non-relative becomes a welcomed part of a family.
“It’s about kindness and respect. Neither side is holy; neither is humbled. Neither kneels to reach out to the other, nor pities the other for their circumstance.
“It’s about generosity, and friendship, and how blood kin doesn’t have to involve blood at all.
“That’s what your blog post is all about, Charlie Brown.”
I sat silent for several minutes after that monologue, wishing like hell I could interview either my grandparents or Nana Bea to capture some more specific aspect of their connection. Of course, I’d need a TARDIS — or a Ouija board — to do that now. (The Social Security Death Index tells me that a Beatrice Townsend died in Leominster, Massachusetts, in January 1978, aged 88 or 89.)
The real, full story of yesterday’s blog post is not one I can put into words.
But I understand it, and I can just about touch it with my fingers and hear it like a song in the back of my head.
That’s the story and I’m sticking to it — even if I didn’t come within a thousand miles of it the first time I sat down to write.