We just concluded a two-week road trip through France, Switzerland, northern Italy with our almost 23-year-old granddaughter. Before coming home I sat in a coffee on a drizzly Paris afternoon, while my wife and granddaughter were packing up some of her things to take him with us.
Outside, under a canopy, sipping a real cup of hot chocolate in the 11th arrondissement, I watched a multicultural, multilingual community walk by; Africans in colorful robes, Muslim women in hijabs, haut couture fashionistas, skateboarders, and jugglers, all of whom are dodging dog droppings in the middle of the streets in a culture where no one would ever dream of picking it up.
You can sit in a Paris Café four hours nursing a single drink and nobody bothers you, so I leisurely wrote some reflections about this extraordinary trip.
We took a day to get over our jet lag then went to the car and drove through France, Switzerland and northern Italy. We never stayed longer than two nights in any one place; we visited churches, castles, museums, road gondolas up snow-covered mountains, visited friends, took boat rides in the Lord Gurion C, and ate great food every night.
We also spent some time driving every day, and listening to each other’s stories. In spite of the tight space and its occasional provocation of scratching this it was always an atmosphere of loving tolerance. There is a special connection between grandparents and their grandchildren that’s clearly different than the one with your children. My grandkids can say things to me that I don’t hear as well from my kids. I am less defensive if my grandkids tell me something that I may not want to hear or face. Since I was not responsible for raising them and setting the limits we only know each other as playmates. We have fun together and when they confront me about things that I may not want to hear or look at in myself they simplyinspire less defensiveness.
For two memorable weeks we shatter lives and it reminded me again that our survival as a species is not insured through the transmission of our DNA but rather in the transmission of our stories. From generation to generation we learn from each other how to walk a good path in life, and how to love…. And love is the part of us that never dies.