Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Patriarchs Past, Present, and Future

Since my grandfather passed away, I have watched my father step up into the role of family patriarch.
Though we still have some more elder male relatives, it is my father who sits at the head of the table at family dinners; my father who reminds my grandmother to call other relatives; my father who makes sure that household things are taken care of, quietly instructing my brothers to do the things he doesn't have the time or skills to take care of. Since he works remotely during the day, he comes to my grandmother's home after my aunt leaves for work and makes sure she's not alone. He checks her blood pressure and sugar levels, makes sure she's taking her medication at the right time, reads out the grocery advertisements to her, and turns the TV on for her favourite soap opera.

He usually hates socializing with more than a couple of people, but for the sake of family, he has become more at ease with it - his beard now as white as my grandfather's was, his laugh more similar, the stories he tells echoes of my grandfather's own tales.

Even as he steps into my grandfather's space, he leaves another space open - and I wonder who will take that spot in his stead. I have three brothers, but as yet too young and brash and often ridiculous; I wonder if I will be always be here to watch them, to see them grow into themselves and into their own roles as men of the family. The eldest is not inclined to marry (much to the increasing distress of my grandmother!), the second has no desire for children, and the third has yet to grow out of the most obnoxious state of adolescence.

Perhaps the three of them together will cobble together the parts needed to fill my father's stead in the future. Perhaps they will simply build themselves differently, growing into themselves with only wisps and glimpses of my father and grandfather in their beards and their voices.

I cling to the memories of my grandfather, and try to memorize every detail of my father now, and I search my brothers' faces for signs that they will become the patriarchs that my family has always had, and always needed, and whom I secretly want for my own daughter, and her children, and their children after that.

May there always be a smiling, storytelling, greybearded man at the head of our dinner table; may there always be the safety and security of their love and protection. 

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