popular posts



Saying Goodbye

My wedding day, shortly after my grandparents celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary

“I’m glad you’re here, Aimee. It’s almost time. I hear Grandma calling for me.”

It was August 11th, the day after my Grandfather would have celebrated his 69th wedding anniversary with my Grandma. They never got the chance. She passed away on New Year’s Day.

I left my Grandfather’s home in tears, trying to come to grips that the end was near. I called my Dad and e-mailed my brother and sister in Afghanistan. The next week was a flurry of activity.  I canceled my trip to San Francisco for a blogging conference. My father arrived from the East Coast and my sister flew in from Afghanistan for a few days so she could say goodbye. My brother, sadly, was unable to get emergency leave from the Army – something we are all still upset about. However, he wrote our Grandpa a beautiful and touching letter which we read to him. My uncle, cousins and other family members also stopped by to be with Grandpa during his final days. He was surrounded by love and the comfort of family. To die any other way is tragic, I thought to myself. This is the way it’s supposed to be. My Grandpa knew we were all there for him. He could hear our words and feel our soft touches and gentle kisses. He managed to give his great-grandson one last high-five and give him a kiss. My father caressed his forehead to soothe him, just like my grandfather did to help calm all of us when we were children. He told us he was a little scared, but ready to go. He had been preparing himself since Grandma died. She was waiting for him.

On their wedding day, 1941.

My Grandpa died on Monday, August 23rd. He was almost 91 years old.

This isn’t supposed to be a sad story and it certainly isn’t tragic. My grandparents had a good long life together and a great love story. Although I feel sad and miss them terribly, I celebrate my grandparents. They were very much a part of my upbringing and helped shape me into the person I am today. My grandparents helped instill core values into all of their grandchildren and taught us that being a good person is the most important thing in life – be loyal and loving to your spouse and family, work hard, use your potential, give back to others, and never lie, cheat, or steal to get ahead. And, perhaps most importantly, fill your home with love and laughter.

I had heard about couples in very long relationships where one would pass away shortly after the other, but I never imagined that it would happen to my grandparents. Perhaps it’s because I never imagined my life without them. But, now, here I am. Living without them. If only I could hear my Grandma laugh one more time or listen to my Grandpa talk about his beloved Dodgers (the man was a human encyclopedia of all things baseball). If only we could talk one more time about how to make the perfect Challah french toast or Matzoh Ball Soup (still working on that one). I’m glad that in the last year, I started to talk more with them about our family history and record some of our conversations on video and audio. I heard stories that I had never heard before and I feel grateful that they shared so much with me. I live with no regrets, except that I didn’t go to just one more baseball game with my Grandpa.

Life goes on and mine will, too. But I’ll miss them everyday that I keep living it.

Leave A Comment

The Mother/Sister Role

My father, my half-brother and my half-sister flew in from the the East Coast for a visit last week. My half-brother is 14 and my half-sister is 10.

I was 20 years old and away at college when my brother was born. I was in graduate school when my sister was born. Since we’re decades of age apart, didn’t grow up together, and live across the country from each other, I obviously don’t have a normal sisterly relationship with them. I love them as I do the sister and brother I grew up with, but it’s a very different relationship.  Over time, I have developed a dynamic with them that seems half-mother/half-sister. When you’re old enough to be the mother of your siblings (and often get mistaken for the mom…ugh), it’s easy to find yourself playing the mom role just as easily as it is to be the sister.

During our visits, I find myself shifting between this mother role and the sister role. I can ask my brother and sister to help with dinner, stop running down the hardwood stairs in slippery socks, or clean up after themselves just as easily as I can find myself on the couch with them playing DJ Hero, teasing and giggling with them as if I were their age.  At the same time, I need to monitor myself like I would with any other kids around, like watch my language and avoid inappropriate topics.  And when topics come up that aren’t necessarily inappropriate, but definitely on the serious side, it can be confusing as to how to handle it. For one thing, my sister and brother aren’t even half as sheltered as I was growing up. It’s not because of how they are parented but rather it’s due to the world they and their friends live in. Their access to the world is staggering and their precociousness is reminiscent of my young adult self and certainly not my tween and teen self. (continues…)

Leave A Comment

Longing For An Ordinary Life

On the 4th of July, that day of all days, my baby brother deployed to Afghanistan.

For my family, this meant two things.  My brother, an Army psychologist, had to leave his base in Europe and say goodbye to his pregnant wife and two year old son for the next year. It also meant that, as of the 4th of July, both my brother and sister are now living in Afghanistan.

As I spent the long holiday weekend at the beach, enjoying the company of my family and good friends, my mind was elsewhere. It was on a military plane that was flying my brother to a war zone. It was in the isolated desert compound where my sister lives and in the helicopter that transports her to various work assignments. It was with her husband, my brother-in-law, patiently waiting for his wife to return home to him. It was with my pregnant sister-in-law, living alone in Europe with her toddler, missing her husband tremendously. It was with my two year old nephew, not old enough to grasp that his daddy won’t be there every night to read him a story before going to sleep.

My brother and sister, the two people I grew up with fighting and loving along the way, do not live typical American lives. And when people you love are living an extraordinary life, it makes you appreciate your ordinary life all the more.

A few months ago, my sister called to say hello. It was 2 am her time and she had been watching her DVD’s of the TV show 30 Rock. While watching the show, she had become homesick. There is always a little ache within her – she always misses her husband and her family. But what surprised her were the little things that caused her to miss home even more, like watching a TV character drink a Starbucks coffee while casually walking down a busy city street. It was a simple reminder of her former life. She longed to do those little things that most of us take for granted, the simple things that provide normalcy. We don’t give walking down the street with a coffee in our hand a second thought. We don’t consider going to the grocery store to buy fresh food or go window shopping at the mall a big deal. Why would we? Living ordinary lives gives us the power and freedom to ignore everyday things.

When families are separated for a while, for whatever reason, it’s not just the big events that will be missed. My sister has had to miss wedding anniversaries, birthdays, and funerals. My brother will miss the birth of his second child and  his son’s third birthday. But, perhaps even more importantly, is that they will also miss the normal everyday family stuff like cooking and eating meals together, going on a walk around the neighborhood, enjoying a fun day at the park or beach, or reading a story to your child at bedtime and giving him a kiss goodnight.

I spent the 4th doing what most American families were doing, spending the day with family and friends and enjoying the fireworks. My normal and simple life will continue as usual, but a big part of my mind and heart will be in Afghanistan for a while. I will be waiting for my brother and sister. Waiting for them to return back to an ordinary life.

Leave A Comment