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Time Travel Dilemma: Visit Great-Grandparents or Great-Grandchildren?

An interesting question came up at my Toastmasters Club the other night during Table Topics. These questions are a regular part of the meeting and give speakers the opportunity to think on their feet. After the question is posed, the speaker has one to two minutes to give an impromptu speech on a subject not known to her until the moment she gets up to speak!

The question was: “If you could time travel, would you rather meet your great-grandparents or your great-grandchildren?”

Even though I didn’t get a chance to respond to the question that night, the answers have been rolling around in my head ever since I heard it. What a fascinating dilemma! For me, it’s not a clear cut choice.

Now that I’m a grandma and have watched my two granddaughters grow over the past seven years, I understand the joy of watching a new generation. I sometimes try to imagine what they’ll be like as adults. What will their interests and talents be? What will they be like as mothers, since one of their favorite activities is pretending to be mamas? They have a wonderful role model—their mama, my daughter. They love to carry their baby dolls around in their slings, push them in strollers, and pretend to nurse them.

Watching these little girls nurture their dollies warms my heart and gives me great hope for the next generation. I think the odds are in my favor that I will get the chance to meet them. I’ll be younger than my mother is now and she’s having the time of her life watching her two little great-granddaughters, one named for her and one for her mother.

On the other hand, I’ve always wished I could travel back in time and meet the ancestors whose photos graced the walls of my parents’ home. My maternal grandmother’s parents came to California during the Gold Rush. She used to tell me stories about them; my favorite was how they had to camp out in Golden Gate Park after the 1906 earthquake. My grandmother’s parents lived with her and my grandpa and mother in San Francisco. My mom loved spending time with her grandpa David, who was a kind and patient man. My paternal grandmother’s parents lived on a farm and owned a restaurant in Pren, Lithuania. Seeing their photos and hearing bits of family history always aroused my curiosity and made me want to know more about their lives and the qualities they passed down.

No matter which direction I might travel, I’m certain it would be a fascinating journey of the imagination. It’s fun to contemplate the conversations. Who knows, with all the technology we have now, maybe time travel will become a possibility!

1 thought on “Time Travel Dilemma: Visit Great-Grandparents or Great-Grandchildren?”

  1. No contest for me! I’d rather see into the future than the past. It’s scarier, though. I know that my great-grandparents came through their tribulations with a measure of success. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here! But our hopes for our grandchildren are so high that it’s heartbreaking to think that through seeing our great-grandchildren’s lives, we might find out that things didn’t turn out so well. Climate change, the economy–there are so many things that can go wrong that are out of the control of a single family. Still, I have faith in my family, and, like you, I definitely plan to be there to see my great-grandchildren.

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