Eleanor of Aquitaine, “The Lion In Winter” (1968): “What family doesn’t have its ups and downs?”

Marilyn asked me to write something last night because she was running low on creative juices. I agreed but wasn’t sure what to say because I wasn’t in the best of creative or emotional places.

Yesterday, Marilyn posted a piece featuring photographs of my familyBingo! The light went on.


Garry Kaity Divot RiverBend

We are in the midst of dealing with our respective families. It’s difficult and challenging. We love them all but brokering some of these situations often leaves us in “loud conversation” with each other. Which is not fair. It isn’t even our drama.

We don’t have Mom and Dad, Gramps or Gramma, Uncles or Aunts to consult for help. We’re it!

July 1963

July 1963

So, I look at the old photos of my family from long, long ago. I wonder how they dealt with these things. They look so young and carefree. I know things were not always easy for them as my brothers and I grew up. I still recall “loud conversations” between Mom and Dad.

1990 in Ireland

1990 in Ireland

I wondered why they didn’t resolve things easily as they did on those family TV shows where father knew best and Ozzie was always at home to deal with family stuff. I even once asked my Mom why our house wasn’t like Donna Reed’s home. You can guess how she replied to me.


I look at my granddaughter Kaity ready to go off to college. I’m proud of her and wish all the good things in life for her. Like so many grandfathers before me, my memories of a younger Kaity fill my mind. Why didn’t the clock stop?

Why didn’t the clock stop for Marilyn and me when we were younger and healthier with some of those beloved family members still around to talk to us.

Silly and naïve questions, I know. We’re the “old people” now. Family begins with us. It’s disconcerting.

Categories: Anecdote, Family, Garry Armstrong, Humor, Photography, Relationships

Tags: , , , , , ,

40 replies

  1. Right there with and Marilyn, Garry. If only… But then, we were blessed with much. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a shame, to have someone ruin your good summer that way, isnt it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I still have my parents around but they are no help to me – I am the one who will have to look after them. My three sisters are scattered around the world and I rarely have contact with any of them. But I have my two children to whom I am very close.
    But it is a fine line when you listen to yourself and look at yourself in the mirror and see your mother looking back at you. Just when you are determined not to end up like her. I hope I have broken the cycle and I do know my children have appreciated me and respect me now.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Being the older generation can be rather unsettling – all of a sudden, I’m supposed to be a great fountain of wisdom? I’m still trying to find my own way! And now there are no older folks that I can turn to for advice.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The guy in the chicken picture looks a little tense.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gordon Winter, author and (according to him) master spy. You can look it up. I think it may be the only picture of him anywhere. He didn’t even put a picture of himself on his books. That was in Ireland, at the foot of Mab’s cairn. That was his cottage. And his pet chickens.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Yes, family… My closest family is just me and my son. I have a sister, two nephews and an uncle that I see occasionally, but daily/weekly it’s just the two of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I remember when the final one of my grandparents passed on, and my mother said, “It’s our turn now, we are the older generation.” When asked about some incident, she also said “Oh, you’ll never know”. She was right, I still have no idea about some of things that happened in her life.
    They didn’t talk much about things and maybe it’s a good thing they didn’t. It’s our turn now. We are free to make our own mistakes without parental scrutiny or judgement. Hopefully, we are wise enough to stay quiet and listen. Would anyone listen to us anyway? We can offer encouragement and stability that’s all. Isn’t that enough? C’est la vie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The answer is “no,” they don’t listen. I offer what wisdom I may have, what help I can give, then watch them do whatever they were going to do anyway. I always hope some of my experience may save someone some hassles, but it never seems to work out that way.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Leslie, Marilyn and I have tried to share things with our soon to be 19 year old granddaughter who’s shortly off to college. We’ve tried to highlight our mistakes so that she knows it’s not always been the successes she’s heard about so often. How much does she hear? Quien Sabe?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Believe it or not, Garry, I would imagine she is taking it all in. She may not want to let you know it but it is there, and when the situation or opportunity arises she will have those word deep in her mind and they help her.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I hope what I am typing now won’t sound bitter, because I am not bitter at all. I am a happy, middle aged goofball, with an adorable husband, great friends and wonderful dogs. However, we don’t have family…AT ALL. Nobody in front of us, parents, grandparents and older relatives are gone since decades, some since over 30 years. Mother nature -or whoever else is responsible- decided we wouldn’t have children. So it’s just us, my husband and me. Nobody behind us, no children, grandchildren or even a distant younger relative.

    Sometimes I think it would be nice to have other generations around us and for a short time I admire people -like you two- you do. Other times I grin inside and think “Gosh I am glad I don’t have to deal with THAT”. 🙂

    Family is a nice thing to have. I treasure mine forever in my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Growing up I certainly never thought about being in this position. On one hand I guess one is lucky to have lived this long, but… Love the ‘loud conversations.’ 🙂


  10. yep I get that big time. Suddenly you look in the mirror and there’s your parent staring back, or a sibling. It’s eerie. At some point most of us get to be the grownup we always thought we wanted to be, and while it can be heady up there, it’s also scary.

    In my family Im the last one standing, almost literally. I have half-sibs somewhere out there in California, they’re still blaming their dad for “what he did” 70 years ago, and I get the edge of that cold shoulder very smartly. I have a cousin who may or may not be alive, no way of knowing what name she’s under, or where.

    Mother in her last winter managed to throw out her driver’s license, her SS card, and all the negatives. There were thousands. sigh. No links, anywhere. To family, or not to family. Neither is perfect,
    Take care, Marilyn. Deep slow breaths. (my best Yoda voice). Don’t think. Just be.

    ( and that huge full moon may have a lot to do with it. Im feeling a bit high tide-low tide myself. It helps to know that, sometimes)


    • Last members of our generation standing. Argh! How did this happen to US? We were so cool!

      I’ve been looking at my mother in the mirror for about 10 years. I can hear her laughing at me. I was sure I would never be my mother. Garry was sure he’d never be his father. We are still trying to be updated and improved versions of our parents and not make all the same mistakes.

      This is the ultimate parental revenge … not that we would have children just like ourselves, but that we would have those children — and grandchildren — and we would BE our parents. Do we deserve this?

      I have cousins …. a whole passel of them … down south, but I never see them, have never even met most of them. I see them fly by on Facebook. A have sister who NO one has seen for more than a decade. Then there’s the son and granddaughter who are local.

      Garry’s brother are both in other states, as are his cousins and each year, there’s less physical time spent together. For me and those out-of-state family members, it’s no contact at all … and Garry’s getting there.

      So how come we seem to catch the flak anyhow?


  11. Great post Garry, I’m it too nowdays in terms of being Grandad and my parents gone. My grandkids have good parents I’m pleased to say, its my own aging children who seem to have more than their own share of issues. You gave me plenty to think about.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amazing how many problems everyone seems to have. The thing is, I don’t think we can solve any of them. I don’t know why anyone imagines for a moment that we can.


    • Thank you. I hope my thoughts help you. It occurs to me as I write that we are doing what our parents and deceased family members would’ve loved to do. Share their thoughts and reflections with others and not feel locked into their lives.


  12. My mother always said “And this too shall pass.” It will. It just feel like forever at the moment.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I see so many friends and neighbors who have family, family, and with one rare exception, all of them are like the off ox and the nigh ox, always pulling in opposite directions. Nasty, mean spirited exchanges, hurtful sessions. I’d probably be tougher and meaner if I had to deal with that every day, but I’d also have an ulcer.

      It’s the goal, not the reality. Sooner or later someone needs to notice that.

      Liked by 1 person

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