“LIFE IS NOT A ‘BRIEF CANDLE.’ IT IS A SPLENDID TORCH THAT I WANT TO MAKE BURN AS BRIGHTLY AS POSSIBLE BEFORE HANDING IT ON TO FUTURE GENERATIONS.” Bernard Shaw.
Before cell phones, twitter, the internet, video games, microwaves, garage door openers and even TV, there was a generation that survived the Great Depression of the 1930’s, fought an honorable war in the 1940’s as they were coming of age and went on to rebuild America in the 1950’s. Their patriotism was high, work ethic strong and priorities clear~God, family, country. They have earned their title of the “Greatest Generation.” They danced to Big Band sounds, pulled together to fight World War II,gathered around radios in parlors to listen to FDR’s Fireside Chats and made their own fun.
Personally, I feel very fortunate to have been born a “boomer” as I have been the beneficiary of hardworking parents who instilled their values of God,family,country in their children. Of course, they were old-fashioned to me as I came of age in the 1960’s especially when they prevented me from wearing makeup or attending boy-girl parties until I was sixteen.
But the older I get, the more I appreciate what they have given me.
Then I read this post on Any Shiny Thing by my writer friend, Lynne Spreen, about the lessons she has learned from her Greatest Generation mother. Hop on over. It is delightful.
And, it reminds me of my own parents, Bob and Kitty, who devoted their lives to taking the lessons they had learned from growing up at a time when money was tight and went on to provide while making sure their children were self-sufficient, responsible and respectful. At eighteen, they kissed me goodbye and wished me well as they sent me off to nursing school. They had already taught me about God, the pride that came from earning my own money, the importance of education, the basics of common courtesy and the value of family~no matter how bad things would get, my family would always be there for me.
While critics may carry on about the glut and futility of memoirs, author and scholar William Zinsser, the Father of Memoir, reminds me in this post that these boring and ordinary true life events are the very ingredients that will enrich my story. What better way to preserve history than to tell stories experienced against the background of the times; to capture its spirit and character.
I have never known a hungry day in my life,but my Mom tells me of opening an empty cold box to find nothing. Then she regales me with stories of warm summer nights when her uncles harmonized barber shop tunes under street lamps. My Dad told me of bullies who taunted him in the school yard about the knickers he was forced to wear until his older brother,Dick came to his rescue. They were poor but they both had loving families. They made their own fun. Now, these are treasure troves to share with the next generation, the torches of light that will be passed forward to preserve a time that will never be seen again.
I am told to write what I know. I know that I want to share the great legacy of love that my parents passed on to me. I hope my tribute will be a fitting one. The lessons from my “Greatest Generation” parents will be the spice in my memoir.
What lessons have you learned from the Greatest Generation?
What is the spice in your story?