I had the wonderful privilege of spending time this afternoon with a lovely woman of a certain age. You know the type, grandmotherly and always ready with a smile, but with an underlying weariness from having seen and done so much.
Indeed, she’s witnessed many things during her long life on this planet; a stock market collapse and depression, World War II, the atomic bomb, a baby boom, Rosa Parks, riots, Civil Rights, Elvis, the Vietnam and Korean wars, bell bottoms, the fall of the Berlin Wall and 15 different U.S. presidents, to name a few.
Plenty of misery to go around in those days but still much joy and optimism too as America grew in to it’s post war prosperity, much of it brought on by the back breaking hard work people did during that time.
Sometimes I wonder if these folks don’t secretly regret all the sacrifices they made so the rest of us could live in such peace and prosperity. I mean really, is a society where more people know the name Kim Kardashian than Kim Jong-un really worth saving?
I don’t know, but I do think people of that era are just a treasure to talk to. There is a certain dignity and common sense about them and they still have many things to teach us. If we bother to listen.
In honor of that I thought I’d share a few pearls of wisdom from that Greatest of Generation woman I conversed with today.
“Mr. President (Eisenhower of course), I had to knock down 7 men to get to you and I’m glad I did, what an honor it is to meet you.”
“I don’t like confrontation. Today it seems that’s all people do.”
“I always thought staying in the same place for too long sounded boring. I was right”
“Isn’t it amazing all the choices women have nowadays? I mean you can literally do anything you want to.”
“Whoever thinks when they build steps up the front walk that one day they’ll be too old to walk down them?”
“I’ll never understand why people get so flustered around famous people. Just because you make pictures, doesn’t mean you’re a good person.”
“That Bob Hope, he really did a lot of good for those poor boys over there.”
“It felt so good to make a difference in someone’s life.”
“I walked by the headstones (Omaha Beach) and just wept, I could feel the terror they must have gone through that awful day.”
“Seeing our flag at Lafayette’s grave made me so proud to be an American.”
“I really like giving advice but not many people come by here now.”
That last one saddens me. There is just something good and solid about that generation that’s fading away fast as time catches up with them. Common decency, humbleness, a strong faith in God with a shared purpose, a strive for excellence, pride for ones country; these make up the torch they are trying to hand off to us. Please, let’s not drop it and let the flame go out.