When I used to listen to my grandmother talk about life in the 30s and 40s, I couldn’t quite picture it. Sure, everyone had lives and friends and families, and most people had jobs or went to school, but it was just so foreign to me. My parents could relate, I suppose, seeing as they were closer to it than I was, but I’m seeing that my kids really don’t have a clue about my own parent’s way of life. It’s funny how that works. Read this and see if it doesn’t take you down a trip through memory lane!
I grew up in the 40s/50s with practical parents. A mother, God love her, who washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then reused it. She was the original recycle queen, before they had a name for it. And a father who was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones. Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away.
I can see them now… Dad, in trousers, tee shirt and a hat, mowing the lawn or checking the oil in the car — Mom, in a house dress, with a child’s spelling list in one hand and a cooking spoon in the other. It was the time for fixing things. A curtain rod, the kitchen radio, screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress. Things we kept. It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy. All that re-fixing, eating leftovers, reusing, I wanted just once to be wasteful.
Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away meant you knew there’d always be more. But then my mother died, and on that clear summer’s night, in the warmth of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn’t any more after something is gone. Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes away… never to return. So, while we have it, it’s best we love it, and care for it, and fix it when it’s broken, and heal it when it’s sick.
This is true for marriage… and old cars… and children with bad report cards… and dogs with bad hips… and aging parents… and grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it. Some things we keep. Like a best friend that moved away or a classmate we grew up with. There are just some things that make life important, like people we know who are special… and so, we keep them close!
No matter when you lived, what matters is how you lived. Did you cherish the small moments with your loved ones? Did you make the most of bad situations? Most of us let those moments slip us by unless we really focus on them, and that can be tragic when the people that we love the most are just suddenly…gone. So take pictures, write letters, and tell your family stories around the dinner table. Be present and cherish each and every day that you have with the ones you love!
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