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Sunday, July 29, 2012

HONOR OUR ELDERS: MY MOTHER'S GENERATION

After two weeks in a nursing home and sharing some of my daily stories, at least two dozen people have told me, "you should write a book about this place."

Well, maybe. I'm discussing that with the Lord, and with all of you, if anyone responds. There certainly are plenty of "characters," some who make me cry, some who make me laugh, and others, yes, who make me want to scream.


Two events put me in mind of their place in our nation's history. One was a blog of growing up in the '50s and '60s (and that's more my generation's story than the story of these folks). 


The other way a concert by the "piano man." He specializes in performing Elvis Presley songs. The lobby was nearly full of people who spend much of their time asleep or mumbling to themselves.  


Listening to the King's music transformed them. They were toe tapping, hand clapping, singing along with the performer. And I looked at the white-haired ladies and thought, "these people were the first rock-n-rollers. As girls they went crazy at Elvis concerts." How time changes us all. 


These seniors won't be remembered as the greatest generation. Most of them just missed it, growing up during the war, changed by it, but not leading. Their time came a decade later. They led us into the uneasy peace after World War II and into the space and atomic eras. My mother, now home with the Lord, is part of this generation. 


When I think of what happened from, say, 1945-1960, I think of these events:


  • Televisions became a staple in nearly every home.
  • A seamstress and an unknown preacher started a boycott of a segregated bus system that swept through the nation, changing us forever.
  • The first ship went into space.
  • America emerged as the first (and only, so far) country to let loose an atomic bomb on an enemy.
  • They married and had children in record numbers (I'm one of them).
  • They raised their children, terrified not by the threat of planes crashing into buildings (as terrible as that was); no, they feared that Russia would bomb them and kill entire cities. They built bomb shelters and taught us to cover our heads and roll.
  • They fought the Communist menace with every resource at their disposal, with all the passion we now spend on fighting "terrorists" (Muslim extremists or other kinds).
  • They elected the first (and to do, date, only? I think) non-protestant president. 
  • They fought in the forgotten war in Korea and by the end of the the 50s, they were already heading for the little known country of Viet Nam.
  • Senator McCarthy emerged as the leader of an extreme anti-communist movement.
  • They rejected their parents' music.
  • The miracle of the polio vaccine and pennicillin brought new hope at a time the threat was real, before vaccines made the scurge of childhood illness largely a thing of the past.
I'm sure I would come up with a dozen more if I stayed here long enough.

Do you hear the echoes of what today's generation contends with?

These are the people now in their 70s and 80s. In this home, most are frail of body and even frailer of mind. But when I think of all they endured and accomplished, I must admire and honor them.

Even if the constant fault-finding drives me crazy. 

P.S. Add to my list of important events during the time period.

P.P.S.  How do you like the idea of a book (a novel, of course) with these seniors as the protagonists?



10 comments:

CHickey said...

Well done! Beautifully written

Kathi Macias said...

Darlene, thank you for this thoughtful post. My mom passed away last year at the age of 90, so she was a bit older than this generation. I was born in 1948, so I personally relate to them and would love to see a series with this generation at the center. Praying it works out for you, my friend. Blessings!

Darlene Franklin said...

Thanks, Kathi, for the comment. They are amazing people. . .

Leslie Basil Payne said...

This generation has so much to teach those who will listen. I think of my father-in-law and all the changes he's seen in his 100 years. His eager attitude to keep learning while he's living is an inspiration. Grace & Peace to you, Darlene.

Darlene Franklin said...

Leslie, thanks for stopping by! 100 years, my goodness!

Patti Shene, Executive Editor, Starsongs Magazine said...

Hi Darlene. My mom transitioned to an assisted living facility last summer. Pror to that, mom and dad lived in a retirement apartment building in up-state New York. I often wish I had written down the stories they told of the friends they made, the good times they shared, the challenges they faced, and the issues they dealt with during those years. I think a book like the one you are suggesting would be fantastic.

Candice Speare Prentice said...

Great article, Darlene. And I love the book idea.

Darlene Franklin said...

Thanks, Patti!

hey, it might be my chance to write a story about the 50s (their youth) while writing a contemporary novel. . .

Karla said...

Great list! My, how time changes perspective, and how swiftly time goes by! Thanks for the reminder of a great generation . . . and an inspiration to go live life to the fullest. :)

H L Wegley said...

Darlene, about the book with an older protagonist -- if you can team up an oldster and a youngster, each contributing their own strengths to overcome the antagonist, you could have a great story.