Most likely, I’d pick someone who is no longer here, but part of me thinks it would be interesting to have a conversation with my 18-year-old self so I could tell her not to worry so much, or with my 75-year-old self so I can get a glimpse of what is to come.
The question also reminds me that we shouldn’t put off conversations with people who are still here because you never know what will happen. We seem to learn that lesson the hard way. Mine came when my aunt, the keeper of the family stories, passed away. Although we said we would, we never got together so she could share them with me and I could write them down.
The first person I thought of when I read this question was my grandfather; we called him Pop Pop, and he passed away in 1977. I was a teen at the time, and although I remember great conversations, we never talked about real life situations. I’d like to ask him questions about prohibition when I hear he made bathtub gin and visited a speakeasy or two. Or questions about his marriage. I’d also love to know his opinion on politics and religion, and other things that weren’t important enough for me to ask at 16.
Speaking of his wife, I’d love to sit and talk to her, too. She was my grandmother, but I never met her since she died when my father was young. I want to know everything about her, how she felt about her kids and her marriage, what it was like during the depression, and why she fell in love with my grandfather. Too bad I’ll never know.
Then there is my maternal grandmother, Gramsy. I was only 12 when she passed away, so I never had the opportunity to get close to her. I hear stories from my mother that her life wasn’t easy; she was poor and raised six kids during some tough times. I know she wasn’t alone; many were in that same situation back then. But what made her different was that she liked to gamble, and I hear she ran the number games in her neighborhood. What a hoot that must have been. I’d also like to know how she felt about things as a woman. My memories of her are few, but clear, and I’d like to hear what she’d have to say about the world today.
I never knew my maternal grandfather, either. He died when my mother was a teenager, so he’d be another interesting person to select. I know he was sick for most of his adult life, which prevented him from working, but when he was healthy, he was known in the neighborhood as a great baseball manager who may have made it to the minor leagues. After he got sick, he’d sit on the porch and sew baseballs to make a few bucks here and there and support his family. I’d like to fill him in on what’s been happening, and collect his thoughts on a few topics.
There are also relatives who have passed on that I’d like to see again, or perhaps someone famous who left us mysteriously, like either JFK or Marilyn Monroe. How about the creative souls, like da Vinci, Van Gogh, or John Lennon? I’d like to know what inspired them. Or, historical figures like Abraham Lincoln? He’d be interesting. The list is endless, and it’s almost an impossible question to answer.
For those of you with parents, spouses, siblings, or children who are no longer with us, the choice may be easier, but that also means you have experienced how sad the circle of life can be.
So, if you could sit on this bench for one hour and talk to anyone, who would it be?