Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuvyah and Bubby

For the longest time we've had an old table in our "foyer" (bear in mind that we live in a 2 bedroom apartment, so our "foyer" : an actual foyer :: our "library" - three bookcases in the corner of our entryway, to the right as you walk in - : an actual library), which sits in front of a funky Ikea mirror, is draped with an antique linen cloth, and holds three photos from our wedding day - one of Ali reciting Tehillim (Psalms) in her dress and veil as she waits for our ceremony to begin; one of Ali and her Grandma; and one black and white photo of me and Bubby.

Lately Tuvyah has gotten used to the concept of me going off to work every morning. It's a nice feeling to finally be able to walk out the door without having to sneak out while he's not looking, in order to avoid his freaking out (while it's heartwarming to know that he doesn't want me to go, it's also heartbreaking to know that he is sad because of my leaving). To sweeten the deal, he makes it very clear that he loves me - he gives me kisses and waves "buh-buh" - so I don't feel like he has lost interest in me, either. On Friday last week, the coolest thing happened. He apparently missed me all day and kept saying "Abba" (Hebrew for "Daddy" - well, actually it's Aramaic, but I don't want to get off-topic), especially in the afternoon. In the end, Ali was compelled to pick me up from the Metro station instead of letting me take the bus home, because Tuvyah had been crying for me.

I walked out of the station to the car, and Tuvyah and I gave each other big smiles. In his hands was the picture of me and Bubby from the "foyer" table. Ali told me that he had been pointing to it and saying "Abba" and was in hysterics when she tried to take him to pick me up, so she gave him the picture and he refused to let go of it!

Granted, this story is more about a toddler's recognition of an image of his father, than it is about Bubby. But it did bring to mind the wish I sometimes have that Bubby had lived to meet Tuvyah.

And it brings to mind something else:
When we introduce to Tuvyah the concept of his deceased relatives, what will he call our Bubby? The problem is manifold. As I believe everyone reading this knows, her other great-grandchildren called her Gigi (derived from G.G., which is short for great-grandmother). But they all had a relationship with her. Tuvyah is the first of her progeny to be born after her passing. To me, she is and has always been Bubby. Now, though, there are how many great-grandchildren who knew Bubby as Gigi? She's not a distant relic in pictures like my great-grandparents are to me (with apologies to my parents, aunts and uncles who may have fond memories of their grandparents). He has several second-cousins who are within a few years of his age who all knew her, and she passed away less than 2 years before he was born. In speech, even my paternal grandfather, who passed away when I was too young to really remember him, is “Grandpa” to me, not “my grandfather”. Furthermore, my Mom wants to be called Bubby, and we completely respect that, and I believe he now knows that when we say "Bubby" we are referring to her. Complicating matters further, Tuvyah has a relationship with Ali’s Grandma, with whom he will be spending all of next week when he goes with Ali on his 4th trip to Edmonton. So it’s not like that generation is theoretical, either. This is also an interesting problem we’re likely to have in the future when we begin to tell him about Ali’s mother, of blessed memory, because the name “Grandma” is already taken by Ali’s Grandma, yet my father-in-law goes by “Grandpa”.

Oh, it’s complicated.