I am fortunate...
Of the four grandparents, I can still visit three, made more amazing is that they are in their 90's. Oma is in a care facility, and dinner with her tonight was amazing. Oma and Opa, on my mothers side, are still in their own home, and I hope to see them this weekend.
Making their story even more amazing is their survival through WWII, their immigration to Canada, their raising of amazing families, and their steadfast resolve.
Seeing them smile when my boys are running amok in their house, touching everything shiny, or when the boys are running amok in the care facility- very special times.
They likely don't understand the extent of the full burden that knocks me to my knees daily. They likely don't know the wear to the very bones of sleepless twin boys at 3AM. They likely don't know the challenge of a marriage of two busy professionals. I don't think they know what an MBA is, or studying from dusk until after darkness has long descended. They likely don't understand my role at my job, and the stress of conducting 23 interviews in a single week. They likely don't know a marathon is 42.2 KM and that after 5 hours of running your body quits.
But I don't understand my Opa working in a coal mine. Or working in a steel factory. Or Oma cleaning hotel rooms. Or raising 6 children in post war Germany. Or surviving a war torn country. Or moving to a new country with no money and no language profeciancy. I don't understand the humanity of sneaking bread to the forest to feed the exiled while your belly is empty- and being caught could result in your death. I don't understand a German soldier hiding in the top of a cherry tree near Leipzig while Russian troops stop and pick cherries. I don't know the strength needed to hike out of Siberia in winter. I don't understand climbing into bed after a bombing raid and seeing bullet holes in your sheets and pillows.
We have it good, as bad as it may seem. Seeing my Oma tonight reminded me that we have a brief time on this planet, and our legacy is a fragile candle held by our children's children, in a stormy future. And if you listen, truly listen, when Oma is quiet and pensive- she will whisper secrets - secrets like ... well, she tells them better than I.
Best to visit them more, best to listen to them more, best to hear their stories more.
MBA time tonight, then visits, then more MBA.
Almost done. Onwards, with balance.
Dieter Wentzel, CPHR