IF THEY ONLY KNEW
I will always wish that my children could have known us and seen us when Christine and I were young. When Christine walked with long legs under pleated skirts, with her waspish waist, and confident stride. When she sat with her long, brunette hair cascading over her shoulders, and smiled so infectiously the room became happy. I wish my children could have heard her sing as she sang in the years before they were born. The young voice, trained and still finding its way but with the promise of accomplishment and joy. I wish they might have known her when her faith was fresh from God’s work in her heart at age seventeen.
I wonder what my children might have thought of me if they had seen me as a young man of eighteen, with strong body, legs of power, lean and muscled torso. Would they have said, “wow” when they watched me on the track or rolling over the bar at the high jump pit. I would like to have them see my hair swept to the sides and dovetailed together at the back, held in place by Brylcream, a curly whisp of hair falling at my forehead. If only they might have heard me sing when I was sixteen and winning vocal contests as a boy soprano and then within months singing a baritone. And what pleasure they might have to see me baptized at seventeen years of age, and later at eighteen attending Urbana Conference in Illinois and telling God I will serve Him with my life.
And my grandchildren, who know nothing about Papa and Nana, Grandma and Grandpa Unruh but what they have seen since their births and through their young years. They know us as we are now. They may not even have interest in learning about who we were and what we were like and how life shaped us. They are as expected preoccupied with their own happy lives, homes, friends and opportunities. They nonetheless love us and want us around, not merely for the things we give them, but for the unconditional loving embraces they know they will predictably receive from us. I can wonder and I can wish, yet, for a seven year old to phone and ask to come over to hang out, or for a ten year old to want to come over to paint with me, or another ten year old want to play golf with Papa, or a twelve year old to come over to bake with grandma, or a fourteen year old to want to shop with grandma, certainly not grandpa, is good enough. It's as good as it gets.
I am writing the history. It can endure beyond my time. It will remain available to the grandchildren if and when they have an interest to learn about the young man and woman who fell in love in the late 1960s and married on an August 12th afternoon in 1967.