Now, why am I posting another weekly column, only a day after the last one? Why, because I posted the last one a bit late, and won't be around at the time I normally post the next, so they've circled around and run into each other. I'm off for at least the next four days, to prepare for and attend the Relay for Life and Jillian's graduation, and again won't be online much. I'm afraid this might be one of those few times when I don't even get to read my flist, let alone comment, so please take note of anything you think I should know about! :-) Have a great weekend, and wish me one that's relatively trouble free.
SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
Those multi-generational photos tell a story, if you care to listen. We were all together, me in the middle: twin sons, mother, grandfather, great-grandmother, great-great-grandmother. Five generations.
So much time passed, and yet so little. So many changes, yet people remain the same.
Nannie was born in 1925. She would grow up in the midst of the Great Depression, an economic disaster not seen before or since. Our current downturn is nothing; the deprivations that generation experienced can’t be truly comprehended these days.
Linda was born in 1943, in the middle of the greatest war the world had ever known. Her father, John Welch, was on a troop ship headed to Europe at the time, and wouldn’t see her until she was three years old. He and Nannie were part of the Greatest Generation, the people who survived the Depression and saved the world.
While Nannie raised my mother, John made five beach landings with the Army’s 553rd QM Railhead Co. My mom had to search for the details, because he wasn’t one to talk about what he went through in Europe, but eventually she uncovered his Meritorious Unit Award, Bronze Arrowhead Medal, Theater Ribbon, and 5 Bronze Stars, among, as she said, “a few others”. What it must have been like for my grandmother, wondering each day when that dreaded telegraph would arrive.
Mark was born in 1962, the JFK years. It was, according to Linda, “the era of the twist, stretch jeans, teased hair, and strap shoes … oh, how Chubby Checker could do the Twist.” Too much information, Mom.
It was also the era of the Cold War, Vietnam, riots and assassinations. Like most kids, I didn’t appreciate that until later; I was a shy kid in rural Indiana, trying to survive school bullies and puberty. I thrilled over the Moon landings and watched in confusion as the Nixon Presidency came crashing down.
Charis came along in 1984. The Cold War was still on, while trust in both the economy and the government remained shaky, but Ronald Reagan led with a sense of confidence and great possibilities. Instead of surviving the Great Depression, Charis watched the Iron Curtain come down. Hers was the first generation to see computer technology take over the home, and suddenly no house had enough electrical outlets.
Hunter and Brayden were born in 2008. Events of seven years before had changed the world forever; they’ll grow up with the constant threat of terrorism, increased security, and color coded danger warnings. The economy will suffer throughout their childhood, although hopefully not as much as their Great-Great-Grandmother’s did. They will face challenges, as every generation faces challenges.
But they’ll also someday look back in their history books and see that the year of their birth brought with it the first black President. They’ll find out whether the experiment in Democracy worked in Iraq, and they could be the generation that watches as microbial life is found on Mars, Earth-like planets are discovered, and maybe even the common cold is conquered. They’ll be tasked with maintaining democracy and making the world better for their own kids.
We’re talking about an 83 year difference, here. When Nanny was born, veterans of the Civil War still lived. Linda’s year of birth saw a segregated military. My first decade was the Civil Rights era. Charis watched as her father dated a black woman and nobody blinked. The twins came in with Obama.
In 1925 all phones had cords, keyboards were part of manual typewriters, air conditioning meant opening the windows, and air travel was for the rich.
In 1943 an interstate highway system was the stuff of dreams, jet airplanes were exotic technology, the milkman came every morning and the mail twice a day, and every neighborhood had a corner store.
In 1962 microwave ovens were science fiction, televisions black and white, some rural areas still didn’t have electricity, radios were all AM, and you could dial just three digits on your phone and actually get somebody. Computers? They took up entire rooms.
In 1984 a company called Apple unveiled something it called the Macintosh personal computer. Cell phones and pagers were a novelty, MTV still played music videos, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was gassing Iranian soldiers, and Michael Jackson was both popular and normal. Researchers were researching a strange new disease that they named AIDS.
And now, on the day I write this, the twins are about to turn one. (They were 8 months old when the picture was taken; yes, I do procrastinate.) What will their childhood bring that we can’t dream of now? We didn’t get the flying cars and Mars colonies that my generation expected, but neither did we dream of computers you could hold in your hand, phones in back pockets, an entire library of music in a device the size of a credit card, or that amazing invention of Al Gore’s, the internet. Remember when we had to learn all this information by reading books?
I wonder what life will be like when I’m the great-great-grandparent in the picture?