Or grandma Louisette and grandma Paulette. The first one teacher, the second one laborer. Workers, Women and Mothers. Born before the Second World War. The first one is deceased, the second one is waltzing through life. Both very different but very fascinating.
Upon reflection, I think I would like to live my grandmothers’ life. I can’t really choose between the two, it is too difficult and there is no reason to order my preferences. There is only one question that encourage my time travel destination:
What was/is going through my grandmothers’ head?
I am not going to develop my thoughts on my maternal grandmother because I think I can change things, still learn from her and find answers to my questionings. She is still alive and instead of going physically in the past, I should just have to listen to her.
My paternal grandmother, Louise a.k.a Louisette, died when I was a little girl. I barely remember her. She lived far from the town, we didn’t visit her often. What I remember is her garden. She had a swing among tall grass and she always asked me to be careful of snakes — it scared us a lot. Her house was old, like her. If you want an idea, keep in mind the interior of Bathilda Bagshot’s house. Lot of books, trinkets, a creaking floor and tiles in the kitchen. But that is not the most important. The most important resides in the answers I could have if I could live her life. Who was she? Did she like music? Did she like dancing? What was her favorite writer? I would know how it was to teach at that time, how serious and conscientious she had to be, and what her opinion would be on the new scholar system. Would she have approved my studies? I hope so but I am not sure. But I think she would have encouraged me to pursue further studies. It would have been crazy, but the idea of seeing my dad grow is irresistible. Oh, even more insane… If I go back in time as my grandmother, I could assist to my own birth and know her feelings. Awe. I am getting emotional.
Apart from that, what interests me the most is knowing my grandfather. I never knew him, he died before my birth but my dad speaks about him sometimes. In fact, there is one thing that touches me deeply. My grandfather protected a Jewish child during the Second World War. I know that even if I had been my grandmother, I would never had heard about this story before his death because he kept it secret, but I would have liked to be there the day she learnt it. My grandfather was a teacher at that time and one day, he learnt Nazis were coming to the school. He hid a Jewish kid behind a pile of wood destined to burn. He saved him and decades after, my grandmother received the visit of that Jewish-now-adult’s wife. He was going to die because of a disease and he wanted to thank my grandfather before. In France, my grandfather should be considered a Righteous Among the Nations — in French, it is un Juste (parmi les nations) and in Hebrew, Hasid ummot ha’olam (חסיד אומות העולם). I write “should be” because in fact, nobody knows what he did. If nobody knows, nobody can remember. They are thousands like him and I am proud of him.
So yes, if I could travel in time as someone else, I would like to be my grandmothers and know what was going on through their mind.
I thought a lot about this question because it is not insignificant. I mean, all of us dreamed to live someone else’s life, at least just for some days — I would definitely like to be Meryl Streep’s daughter or Meryl Streep herself. But live somebody else’s life means giving up on yours. Giving up on your own desires, your own follies, your own loves. To live like somebody else, it is giving up on you. When I asked this question, I realized it may have a double meaning, a kind of hidden sense. Through this question, I was trying to tell me something. Perhaps… do I like my life? When you start wondering if another life is better than yours, it may be time to make it change. But no, I have no problem with my life — for now ;-). I don’t feel like Bridget Jones. I think it was just a way to take time and look back. A lovely moment to remember the past and not to forget.
Love is on the way, as are memories,