Throughout the process of interviewing approximately 150 other adult 3Gs over the period of a year or two, I found insight and comfort learning that I was not the only one who’d grown up feeling the way I did and that as an adult, I wasn’t the only one revisiting and evaluating what it all meant. Some, though not all, also explained situations in which they, too, were caretakers of sorts for the adults around them and for their stories, and that I wasn’t the only kid who grew up in a family that was more chaotic than peaceful. If you do the math, you will see that those my age are at the upper end of this group. What I have found is that the older the 3G, the more likely he or she is to live near and often be very intertwined with his or her survivor grandparent(s). In
fact, the closer the 3G is to my own age, the more likely it is that his or her grandparent-survivors lived nearby and were,
for the most part, a core part of the nuclear family as opposed to a holiday-only kind of grandparent.
For kids seeking love and closeness (and which kids aren’t?), this had some wonderful benefits. Growing up in true proximity to my grandparents and virtually being raised by my relatively young grandmother was a true gift that not only shaped who I became, but one that I carry with me, gratefully, always. The love that surrounded me, the undivided time and attention I received, the adventures I had—it may have been taken for granted at the time, but I now know how truly fortunate I was. I look at my own kids, now young adults, and feel sadness that they will have never known that feeling of being the most loved and cherished grandchild in the world. Of the two grandparents they knew in person, one lived across the world and the other in another state. They never had the singular experience of having a Bubby make them a (terrible) school lunch with some sort of pickle-andchicken concoction smushed into a brown paper bag or pick them up after Hebrew school in an oversized Cadillac. They never worried about running into their Zeidy at the JCC while hanging out with their friends as he was holding court,
sharing his story of survival to strangers in the room with the vending machines.
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