They were made out of something different, the generation before me. Today I’m lightly aware of the “wimipfying” of society. You know, the plastic playground equipment, helmets on anyone even near something with wheels and hand sanitizer everywhere you look. When my parents tell the stories of how things were bringing me up, you see a difference, but the changes are even more clear when compared to how things were when they grew up.
Just today my mom was telling me they not only didn’t have car seats for kids but they didn’t even have seat-belts! She remembers her mom driving her and her sisters around in the backseat and taking a sharp turn. My aunt Cindy grabbed the door handle as the door swung open & Cindy clung to the door handle for life!
Weak rearing is only the tip of the iceberg. The general attitude of people from older generation seems like they were less entitled and endured great hardships with far more perseverance than most people today. I could easily write a book on the incredible life my mom has lived. She was born with one arm and that fact alone set her up for a life of hardship most of us cannot even comprehend. She could have opted out of the more difficult things in life, but my mom never even got a “handicap” sign for the stick shift car that she drove her baby boys around in. While my dad was away all day working a physically demanding job to support the family, mom was at home raising not one but two boys.
When my brother & I were old enough to be shuffled off to school and give mom a break, her and my dad decided to home-school us. She took the new challenge head on until she couldn’t anymore; in the cold winter of 1984 she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Little did we know this was only the beginning of dealing with reoccurring cancers for the next 20+ years.
I remember having a conversation about skiing with a woman about 10 to 15 years younger than my mom. She said she never went because she was “too old”. I had to laugh at that one. My mom loved to ski and one year not long before had fallen and torn her ACL – an injury that would put a professional football player out for sometime. Mom was back on the slopes the next year!
One of the more moving things about all this is to see dad’s reaction to it all. My dad is a no-nonsense, “suck it up”, ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ type of guy and he’s so proud of her. As I write this, they are a few months into building their dream house- a log home. And when I say they’re building it, I mean THEY are building (not having a contractor build it). Mom could be excused from doing any of the physical work. We would completely understand if she would rather sit & watch the house be built, but no, she’s been helping dad every way she can: using the nail gun, hammering, screwing, painting, etc.
Today I was chatting with dad about welding – his job of 30 + years. I guess I was too selfish growing up to really care about the details of his job. I knew he worked hard & always told me to do well in school so I could get a job I enjoyed. What I realized today is that dad is a professional welder and that welding is very technical – there is a science and technique to it. All those years he was out there air-arcing, and welding in Craig’s sub-zero temperatures in a welding mask. I was sitting there listening to him talk about these hard conditions, not in the slightest complaining but in a very matter-of-fact way. I was thinking about how plush my life has been and especially my job.
Why did they have so much fortitude, so much more long-suffering than I do? I think, on a grand scale the world has been falling apart in every way since The Fall, it’s the old “frog in a pot of boiling water” illustration, that sins effects on the world are slowly unraveling all that is good.