Last Sunday after church, Daniel and I grabbed lunch and decided to eat out at the Peace Memorial. The memorial is a small park with a brick lined plaza, filled with fluttering flags from around the world. They don’t fly all the flags at the Peace Memorial; not because some nations are less than peaceful, as you might think. Rather, they represent the nations who exported a significant number of people who ended up living in Rockford, Illinois.
Anyway, that got us on the subject of ancestors. We looked around at all the flags and took pictures of the ones that represented Daniel. He liked the flag from Pakistan best; it’s his favorite color: green. Unfortunately, there’s nary a Pakistani in the family tree as far as I know. Still, we took a picture of it. We also snapped a picture of Daniel’s stuffed dog – Oscar – standing next to the Chinese flag. Daniel read his tag – MADE IN CHINA – and decided to document Oscar’s ancestry as well. We also managed to find the flags for the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Norway, Lithuania and Poland. I explained where each flag came into play in Daniel’s family tree.
The problem occurred when Daniel noticed that his family tree seemed to have a couple of extra branches. He knew that he had two parents: Meka and me. And mom and dad each both had two parents, but that’s where the confusion came in. Daniel put two and two together and kept coming up with six. Meka’s side was easy: Grandma Wells and Grandpa Dave were Mom’s mom and dad. That made sense. So, then he tried with me. Grandma Sherrie and Grandpa Joe were my mom and dad, right?
No, Grandma Sherrie was my mom, but Grandpa Bob was my dad. Daniel digested this fact and tried again. Grandpa Bob and Grandma Ann were my dad and mom? No, Grandpa Bob was my dad. Grandma Sherrie was my mom. There was another pause while Daniel tried to work it all out. At first, he figured that they had taken turns being my mom and dad. No, not exactly. I explained that – when I was a boy – Grandpa Bob and Grandma Sherrie had been my mom and dad together, but later on they didn’t live together anymore. Grandpa Bob met Grandma Ann and Grandma Sherrie met Grandpa Joe (I didn’t mention ex-Grandpa Rick in there somewhere in between). Daniel thought about this for a bit and wanted to know why Grandmas and Grandpas had decided to trade for each other. That was an interesting thought, but – no, Grandma Ann had been married to someone else entirely and so had Grandpa Joe and they had been some other kids’ mom and dad. Daniel looked a bit concerned by this.
Didn’t those kids want their mom and dad back? I could feel a tension headache rising up the back of my neck. I explained that just because they didn’t live with each other anymore, didn’t change the fact that they were moms and dads to those other kids and that they had still seen those other kids and played with them and so on. Daniel was relieved to hear this, but he was still bothered by one thing.
So, why did they stop living together? You know, Russian novels have been written with less drama than some of what came to my mind, there, under the flags at the Peace Memorial. I just explained that they had decided that it would be better to not live together and they had found people they liked better. Daniel accepted this and I mumbled a silent thanks to the Powers that Be that Daniel didn’t try to apply the lessons of his grandparents to Meka and me.
However, as we were walking back to the car, Daniel scowled. “They should have stayed together,” he complained. “This is just too hard to remember!”