Family Roots and Comedy

I recently visited my father’s side of the family in Israel. I always get in touch with how much I miss them right before I see them. Once I’m with them, there’s simply not enough time to dwell on missing them.

On the plane trip over, I poured through my memory banks. I pictured my family as I last saw them eight years ago. I thought of the trip that happened four years before that. I flashed back to a few feverish bouts of Uno I played with my aunt and her kids in 1998. I thought of the multi colored, full-head Yamaka I proudly returned to Denver with when I was nine. I even watched a video clip of my 3rd birthday party at my grandparents house in Jerusalem.

During this most recent trip, one of my aunts took me by the hand and ushered me to a photo that hung in her hallway. She was in the center of the photo. To her right was her mother and her grandmother. To her left her daughter stood holding her newborn. The she declared, “That’s not something you see often, five generations!” It is pretty remarkable. It’s also because less and less people are getting married at 16… But hey, that’s not the point.

The point is that family is their highest priority, and as such, I was overwhelmed by the love I was shown. I cherished every conversation I had, especially with the little ones. It’s so beautiful to witness them grow and change. I feel lucky I get to know them. I like the idea of imagining seeing myself through their eyes — in incremental snapshot visits through a period of three decades.

The most painful change the passage of time brought was my grandfather’s decline in health. He smiled a lot when he looked at me. It was really hard to see him that way. I don’t want him to hurt.

I thought back to the last time I saw him. He’s always been very quiet. He had sat me down and then silently showed me photos of himself and his family at my age. Occasionally he’d stop at one and chuckle. I thought back to when he took me and a few of my cousins on a stroll through the neighborhood one Saturday evening nearly 20 years ago. I thought about how he used to give me candy as a child. I really love him.

The reason I share about this is because there’s a joke in the set about my grandfather, along with other jokes that are at my edge. Without some context, I might seem snarky, or comically-nonchalant. I don’t want the comedy to be interpreted as callousness, or my attitude to connote racial insensitivity. I don’t think my privilege entitles me to use whatever I can to get a laugh. The comedy is just a way to share a bit of who I am.

Thank you for viewing it.

Like what you read? Give Elan BenAmi a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.