Tag Archives: Grandparents

An Open Letter to My Brother on His College Graduation

Dear Adam,

Congratulations, baby bro. You did it. And your family are so, so proud of you.

I missed your graduation because I’m half a world away but all of our grandparents were there and that’s more important. I’m proud of you because I know you worked hard, took chances, made choices, and had adventures. Our grandparents are schepping nachas because you were their first boy and no one knew what to make of you, but everyone loved you immediately. Everyone continued to love you as you grew into the cheerful, funny, passionate person that you are. And look at where you are now. I’m so glad they were there.

I couldn’t be there but I’m thinking of you. I know you have a good head on your shoulders and that’s why there are things I want you to know. Putting my educator hat on, I will say that I wish they’d taught you differently in school. You graduated from an undergraduate business program, after all, and I wish they’d taught you about things that matter. You know you’re supposed to go into the world and make money, with which you’re then supposed to do . . . something. Make more?

But as your older sister, and as person who shares the planet with you and identifies in relation to you, there are a few things I want you to know:

  1. You will always have my love and support, in any way you need it and at any time of night or day. Just call and I’ll be there.
  2. It’s important to take care of yourself. It’s important to eat well, sleep well, and make the time for things that matter. Work can wait, even if it’s just for a few minutes. You can’t do the work if you’re not healthy.
  3. The world is full of choices and they only get bigger as you gain life experience. Make the choices that will help you become the person you want to be. Surround yourself with people who will help you grow.
  4. It’s hard to ask difficult questions and even harder to answer them. Think and feel deeply. Consider the questions, “Who am I? What am I?” Consider them over and over and over. Act accordingly.
  5. You will make many, many mistakes. You will hurt people without knowing you did. You will be hurt. You will cry. And you will learn. Learn from your mistakes and experiences and let them make you a better person.
  6. Beauty is easy to pass by. Don’t. Really, actually, stop and smell the flowers. Spend thirty seconds just looking at a tree. Dance in the rain. Climb the mountain. Look around and protect the simple things – they matter.
  7. Remember that small acts create big ripples. It’s not hard to remember a birthday or write a note or say hello to someone new, but all of those things make a difference. Make them part of who you are.
  8. It’s okay to stop. It’s okay to decide this isn’t working and do the difficult thing and walk away. It’s okay to start over. It’s okay to try something completely new. This is how we learn and grow.
  9. Speak up for what matters to you. It’s one thing to grumble in private and quite another to stomp your feet in public. Stomp your feet and behave with integrity.
  10. The most important thing is to be a good person. Money can wait. Buying a house can wait. Your new avalanche skis can wait. Be a good person. That cannot wait.

Congratulations again. Take some time to celebrate . . . and now go change the world.

I love you,

Rebecca Michelle

A Long Way Home

Friday marks the end of my school break. I’ll begin my 30ish-hour journey back to Singapore tomorrow evening, land early Sunday afternoon, get my life in order, and head back to work first thing Monday morning. Some of my friends are already back in Singapore, but I really don’t do well with downtime. I’m already getting close to a point of emotional turmoil  so the quicker I get back into my routine, the happier I will be (and the sooner I’ll be rid of the inevitable jet lag).

I’m sure I don’t have to say that it has been wonderful being back in the US for the holidays. Mitch and I made a lot of decisions during the 4 days we spent together in New York City, and the subsequent week or so we spent together in Rochester. I feel much better about the choices we’ve made and about our future, than I did before we sat down in person and talked. Since Mitch and I have so many important discussions over the phone, I often forget the instantaneous communication of body language. In truth, body language makes tough conversations a lot easier. Silence takes on a new meaning. Togetherness matters a lot more when it’s not taken for granted.

While I was home, Mum and I took a quick trip to Montreal to see my grandparents.Seeing one’s grandparents really shouldn’t have to be a special, planned occasion. I’ll see them again over the summer when I’m back in the States, but that’s a long way away. It’s unfortunate that we had to drive for 5 hours (and then back) to make Bubbie and Zaidy dinner, but that pizza with a puff pastry crust was delicious. In some ways, we’re lucky that it’s only a 5-hour drive because it’s easy to do in a day. It’s a distance that I’ve been used to for the last 23 years, but I’ve never grown to like it. More convenient than the distance between Singapore and Rochester, though!

No matter how often I fly back and forth, or how many people I say goodbye to on either end, I’m never completely ready to leave. It was easy to leave Singapore for a 3-week break because everyone was leaving and we’d all be back soon. It wasn’t easy to leave Malaysia last June because it meant saying goodbye to my friends, possibly forever, and it wasn’t easy to leave Rochester in July. I usually find myself somewhat anxious and certainly rather despondent. It makes me reluctant to act and leads me to avoid productivity. For example, I should be collecting various clothing items and putting them in my suitcase, but I’m writing this blog entry instead. I want to get back to my home, friends, and even my job, but I don’t want to leave the family and friends I have here.

It’s a conundrum. Welcome to the fragility of life abroad.

Summer Lovin’

The following conversation took place between my mum and my zaidy (grandfather in Yiddish) when Mum, Mitch, and I took a trip to Montreal to visit Mum’s side of the family this weekend.

Context: Bubbie (grandmother in Yiddish) and Zaidy are going to Florida for a couple weeks in December, and my Bubbie is not a small woman. She bought a very flattering bathing suit that covers as much as can be covered.

Mum: Dad, do you like Mummy’s new bathing suit?
Zaidy: Meh, it’s for old ladies.
Mum: What, you think she should wear something sexy?
Zaidy: Well yeah. It’s for old ladies. Why should she cover everything up?

More context: Bubbie is 74 and Zaidy is 78.