Mom and I took the girls to see Uncle George this morning. My mom comes from a big, intricately connected family. She spent part of her childhood living with Uncle George (her father's brother) and his wife, our beloved Aunt Winnie who died a year ago. My grandpa died when I was 12, so since then Uncle George has been a surrogate grandfather to me. I have always loved to visit him. He's not much of a talker, but what he does say is worth listening to and he claims me, and my children, as his own.
Uncle George is 97, the oldest man I have ever known. He lives in a care home not too far away. When we arrived he was dozing in his chair, wearing his favorite hostein cap as always (he was a dairy farmer). He was delighted to see us. Uncle George and Katherine have adored each other since the day they met and Rachel, of course, is always ready to make new friends. The girls chattered and danced around the room and Uncle George watched with a big smile on his face. He loves these great-great-nieces. He did all of his little tricks for them - popping his teeth in and out, pretending to pull off his thumb. He's done this for 60 years or more and the kids still are fascinated.
While Granny took the girls for a spin around the hall in a wheelchair, Uncle George and I talked cameras. He was the family photographer in earlier years. His vision is too poor for cameras now, but he still likes hearing about them. He is as amazed by digital cameras and the tiny camera cards that hold thousands of pictures as he must have once been to think of a man on the moon. He asked what I did with the pictures I take and shook his head in wonder when I told him that I put some of the on the internet so people far away can see them. I asked if he wanted copies of the pictures I'd taken today and he said yes. His memories go back more than 90 years, but photos of the people he loves are still important.
We left with lots of hugs and kisses. Sometimes I feel sad that my daughters have no connection to their ancestors. But I am oh so grateful to have these older relatives to share with them. Our family tree doesn't look like other people's. It's more twisted and has grafts from other plants, but it is very strong and blooms in blossoms of many colors. It's an honor to be a branch on it.