Possibilities Lost and Found

By Rick Fullerton | Bio

over sixty and having five grown children, it comes as no surprise that
my wife and I look forward to grandchildren. Like many close-knit
families, we treasure the time our kids have had with their
grandparents. Visits to the island summer home in Mahone Bay or to my
mother in Grand Lake offered life-shaping experiences when the extended
family came to be together. These times were not just about having fun
or creating enduring memories: they were unique opportunities to learn
and grow individually and as part of a larger family.

reflecting on the place of grandparents in families and in our evolving
society raises several questions and possible insights. As a child, I
knew only three of my four grandparents—my dad’s father having died
many years before my birth. Similarly, none of our children even met my
dad as he died when I was 12. On the other hand, our two granddaughters
have all four grandparents and knew two of their great-grandmothers.

the other end of life’s spectrum, during our anniversary celebration
last month much excitement and anticipation focused on the expectation
of two new grandchildren to arrive next year. There is nothing quite
like the glow of a mother and father-to-be that comes from a wanted

I am grateful for the relationships with my
grandparents and my grandchildren. And today, I am puzzled by the
prospect of creating possibilities in the face of loss—whether the
passing of an elderly grandparent or the premature loss of an unborn
child. In the former case, we have a wealth of stories, experiences,
and perspectives as a foundation for acknowledging who they were and
the possibilities their life offered. Losing a baby or anyone ‘before
their time’ also presents us with an opening, when we are able to see

The challenge, as always, is to be able to look at what’s
happening in light of who we are. So I ask myself what possibilities
can I create—for my grandchildren, for our children, for others, even
for myself? Can I be with my daughter and her husband as they grieve
their loss—our loss? Can I be a bridge between those who go and those
who come? Can I generate possibilities that give fresh meaning to my
life in the face of loss?  

Of course I want the answer to be
“Yes”. Yet I am aware that I may not be able to succeed—at least not
alone. Rather, I see the work of possibilities occurring in our
conversations, our relationships. Whether a possibility is lost or
found, created or dismissed, influential or irrelevant, is a function
of who we are in our relationships—not just who we think we are as
individuals. And it is in these relationships—in marriages and
partnerships, families and teams, organizations and communities—where
possibilities emerge and give promise to our lives together.