“I just don’t understand anything about this world anymore,” My mama says.
It’s no wonder older people spend a lot of time thinking about the way things used to be. Let’s face it; they have a lot more years behind them . . . happier years, than they do in front of them. Those years when they were young were filled with fun and innocence. It was a time to dream big and experience the wonder of the world. Sure, there were bad things that happened back then, but they don’t remember seeing anything like we see today.
For those who grew up in certain parts of the country in the early 1950s and thereabout, the world indeed seemed a safer place and that generation grew up to become perhaps the most successful group in history. It wasn’t all about money. Your word was your bond. Hard work was nothing to fear. Failing at times meant you just worked harder the next time. Family helped family. Pride and love for our country was proven not by words but by service.
John McCain’s Generation
Senator John McCain passed away yesterday. He was from the greatest generation. It was a sad day for humankind. No, I didn’t always agree with his politics but he was true . . . true to his country, true to his family, true to his God and willing to stand up for what he believed. Sure he was idealistic. I sure wish more people were willing to make the sacrifice to see those ideals become a reality. Perhaps that’s the greatest difference between the younger generations and McCain’s. His was about serving other. Even my generation — I’m 60 — is a lot about serving yourself. Just consider the times when McCain grew up. Nearly all the people I greatly admire are a part of that generation.
Back when my parents and McCain were growing up, money did not insure you’d be admired . . . character did. And if you were poor, that didn’t stop you from being honest or working to make your life better. They were at the tail end of the Great Depression which lasted a lot longer in states like Oklahoma — where my parents grew up — than in other states. What they did have was perhaps more important than what they didn’t have — safe places to live and people you could truly admire.
“I never felt scared to walk home at night,” said mama of her youth when she served popcorn at the town’s movie theater. “Everyone left their doors unlocked. And if it was really late, I just walked to my granny’s house to spend the night. She was always glad to see me.”
Life in a Small Town
Living in small towns like my parents did meant everyone knew who you were. They also knew when you messed up and weren’t afraid to tell your mama!
My parents didn’t know anyone who used drugs. Alcohol . . . well there were a few in their group of friends that enjoyed a nip or two. Going to a dance didn’t mean you’d be drinking. Most places didn’t allow it. My parents could pile in a car full to the brim with friends, drive a few miles and hear bands that would one day become famous worldwide like Bob Wills, Johnny Cash, Lefty Frizzell and Jimmie Dean.
They also enjoyed going to the roller rink and seeing all their friends. And if one of them had perhaps taken a few too many nips, the comedy act was on the roller rink floor.
Remembering back when you were young and strong and vital is a way to reaffirm who you really are. If you’re the caregiver for an older loved one, ask them about their youth and the days that were happy with new experiences. It’s a world that makes a lot more sense to them and is filled with good thoughts. They are worthy of remembering.