Across the generations

By Denae Jones – 

I looked across the kitchen this morning at my youngest daughter, who was sitting at the table eating a bowl of Fruit Loops.  Her hair was pulled back, just the way mine was when I was her age.  She was wearing a shirt just like the one I was wearing in an old picture.  I had a complete flashback.  It’s funny how fast my memory transported me to my grandmother’s kitchen in Wisconsin where that picture of me was taken.  It shows me sitting at the table eating Fruit Loops, and I had my arm in a sling from where my Uncle Jim was swinging me around by my arms and one of them twisted out of place.  The other details from that day came flooding back, and I could almost hear my Grandmother’s voice yelling at the kids to get out of her kitchen.
My favorite part of being there was sitting on the porch, where multiple generations of relatives would gather.  Sometimes my Uncle Joe would be there with a guitar, and the youngest cousins would dance to ‘Father Abraham’ while the adults sang along.  Then we would sit around a campfire and eat s’mores while we listened to everyone tell stories about growing up in a home with eight siblings.
It was a simpler time, when our parents weren’t nearly as protective as parents are now.  We would be handed a whistle on a shoestring and told to wear it around our neck.  They would send us out to play in the woods, and we were to blow the whistle if we got lost or ran into a bear.  Sounds crazy now, but we sure did have fun!   We only got lost a couple of times, and I’m sure all of our noise scared the bears off.  I miss the time when we didn’t need Wifi to be entertained.  We created our own entertainment, much like my own kids did a few minutes ago, when they were rolling each other down the hill inside a cardboard box.
I didn’t realize at the time what a blessing it is to be in the company of multiple generations.  Each one has so much to offer, and yet, so much to learn from the others.  Where one struggles, the other has strength.  Where one is reckless, the other is wise.  When one is heartbroken, the other brings joy.  When one is sick, the other takes care of them.  Can you imagine what it would be like if we didn’t have the one before us?  Or after us?  Think of all the things we would miss, or have to learn for ourselves.
Sadly, in the last couple of years our family has lost an entire generation, as I’m sure has happened to many of you.  I sure miss the sound of their voices, and the charm that was all their own.  But their advice, their stories, their cute little sayings and the memories of them are always close. I share them with my children as often as I can.  I want them to remember.
But spending time with another generation doesn’t necessarily have to happen within the family.  If you find yourself constantly surrounded by people the same age as you, I encourage you to expand your circle.  Help an elderly neighbor, or visit that family member you’ve been meaning to see.  Mentor a school aged child.  Volunteer in the nursery at your church.  Be a listening ear to someone who might just need to talk.  I guarantee you have something to teach them, something to learn from them, or some joy to bring them.  And they can do the same for you.
As my daughter finished her Fruit Loops and put down her spoon, she caught me watching her.  She smiled and said, “What?”  So I told her the story about that summer in Wisconsin, and how much she looked just like me in that moment.  What she may never know is how much I’m like my Grandma.  I wish she would have been able to know my Grandma and see that for herself.  But our stories live on, and will hopefully be told for generations to come.
Are there stories in your family that you don’t want to be lost?  Write them down!  Better yet, record someone telling the stories so you have their voice to go with it.  The next generation will thank you for it.
Have a blessed week, friends!