The other night, I took my four oldest daughters to see a movie. It was Thanksgiving, we were restless, and I did not want to go shopping. Since my youngest does not do that well in movies yet (she is a bit of a busybody), my wife stayed home, and I took the girls to see Disney/Pixar’s, CoCo.
Without giving any spoilers, the story involves an aspiring musician named Miguel, who, by chance, finds himself in the afterlife. In his quest to get back home to the “real world,” he searches for his great-great-grandfather. Like I said, I am not going to go into details here, because I think you should watch the movie yourself. However, the premise of the movie is that once your last living relative has forgotten you, you are truly gone forever. Nobody deserves to be forgotten, and if someone remembers you, then you still get a chance to come back and visit your family.
As a kid, I met older relatives, not really understanding who they were, how we were related, what they did for a living, etc. I never really knew them. You know? I have brief memories, flashbacks, if you will, of visiting my grandpa at the grocery store he worked in. I can still remember going to a work picnic at the factory my grandmother worked in. To this day, I still don’t know what they made at that factory.
My great-grandmother and great-grandfather used to live in a nursing home. When we visited, we never stayed long, but I usually left with a dollar I didn’t have when I got there. I remember my great-grandfather wearing overalls and glasses, and I remember his name. I do not know what he did for a living. I do not know what he was like as a person, who he aspired to be, and if he ever reached his goals.
My parents went through a lifetime of hard lessons raising my sister and me. There are some spotty memories, and some stick to me like paint on a wall. I know a lot more about my parents (not really that worried about forgetting them), than I do about my grandparents, my great-grandparents, and my great-great grandparents. In a way, I have forgotten them. I hope someone else in my family is taking the reins and remembering them for me, and showing their pictures to their children and grandchildren, so they will not be gone forever, and can still come and visit us.
Truth is, none of us really know what happens to a person when they are gone. It was kind of nice the other night, nonetheless, to think that my deceased family members come back to check on me and the rest of my family. I bet there were times when they were wondering when I would ever start to grow up. If life really is like that movie, I hope all my relatives come and visit me all the time now. Even if it is just once a year, I am okay with that.
I have heard a lot of names in my wife’s family, and many I have forgotten.
However, I know that I will never forget the nickname, “Apple.” From the stories my wife has told me of her grandfather, I know she loved him just as much as I loved my grandpa. Unfortunately, I never had an opportunity to meet him, and she never had a chance to meet my grandparents. However, I have had the pleasure of meeting her grandmother, and I could not be happier she is now a part of my life, too. She is just as big of a cheerleader for me as my own grandmother used to be, and for that I will always be grateful.
Do not get me wrong, I am still a young man, but my kids seem to be growing up a little faster than I would like. Occasionally, I will throw out a random number, like “five years,” and see how old my children will be then. It puts things in perspective, because I keep getting older by that many years, too. Hypothetically, in five years, I could be a grandfather myself. I could have a kid about to graduate college, another in the middle of college, a couple in middle school, and another in elementary. I know one thing, in five years, “I” will be a college graduate, and if you had asked me about that five years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you.
Life has a funny way of revealing itself to you, and the last year of my life has been eye-opening. Instead of looking at things on the surface, I pick them up, peek behind them, and dust them off before I put them back down. I have struggled with certain aspects of my life, and there are plenty of chapters in my life I wish had never been written. I still struggle attempting to turn a couple pages of the new chapters I strive to write. Despite that, I know there is still a lot of my book left to be written, but one day it is going to say, “The End.” When it does, and the book shuts one final time; I am going to tell you all the same thing I told my kids as we walked out of the theater the other night: You guys better remember me.