January 9th, 2003

self portrait

Generational thoughts

Two friends have had grandparents pass away in the last couple of days. Got me thinking about generations.

My only living grandparent is my paternal grandmother. I haven't seen her in a couple of years but she was doing well then. I'm thinking now that I'll try to get up north and see her this summer but likely will not. I don't visit the homestead that often and my wacky work schedule will impede. I hope she'll be fine for many years to come.

I think of my maternal grandparents now and then. Typically when I'm making cookies or playing cribbage. My paternal grandfather died before I really knew him. I remember, however, sitting with him on the steps of his house and looking at birdhouses he'd made with him. I think because I was young, I have vivid memory of his strong, rough hands but little else.

Of my maternal grandparents I have more varied memories. The smell of goodies cooking. My grandfather "swearing in Finn." The garden they kept. Mowing their lawn. Holidays. Perhaps because there are more of them, the memories are less vivid, however.

I'm grateful that one of my Aunts took a great interest in family history. She and her husband produced multimedia presentations about my grandparents lives for their 80th birthdays. Very nice presentations and full of great bits of biography and family history. From similar work, I learned a few years ago of an Uncle I never knew I had. He'd died as a teenager in a hunting accident and the family never talked about it.

I think about the things that my grandparents will never know sometimes and also what they did know. They lived in homesteads on what amounted to a frontier. They survived the Great Depression and two World Wars. And they saw men land on the moon. They changes in our society they lived through are truly remarkable when I look back on them. Then I look forward and wonder what we're in for over the remaining decades of my life. What will my nieces and nephews know that I can't begin to fathom now?
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