Looking around my parentsí living room, I can recreate their 85 years of life. Family pictures cover the walls. Our graduation pictures, grandkid pictures and even great grandchildren are interspersed among the wedding photos, family reunion photos and pictures of my aunts and uncles and grandparents.
On another wall is a large frame that encases my fatherís medals from his World War II experience as a pilot over Sicily and Italy. His dog tags are there along with a picture of his P-47 airplane. Next to these is a photo of my father as a young man in his captainís uniform. This rural South Dakota farm boy served his country proudly and well.
On top of the kitchen cupboards are the many cream pitchers my mother has collected. Evidently at some point in time she had a couple of pitchers and people assumed she collected them. My sisters and others brought them for her as souvenirs of their travels. My mother can name where every pitcher came from and who gave it to her.
As Mom is preparing supper, I see her get out her old metal colander to rinse the lettuce. She gets out her cast iron skillet to brown the meat. We set the table with dishes that have a pattern faded from many washings.
As I move about the house I am reminded that Mom and Dad came from another time--a time long before man walked on the moon or people communicated by texting or watched movies on DVD.
Gardens provided enough food to get through a tough South Dakota winter. Canning and preserving everything from vegetables to meat was a normal autumn occurrence, and there is still nothing that can compare to these wonderful foods.
Cars didnít have automatic starters and key fobs. In fact, a garage was a luxury that we didnít have for many years. A shovel and hard backbreaking work to clear the driveway after a snowfall was just one of the chores we were expected to complete. No one in the neighborhood even thought about having their own snowblower, even if they had been available.
The family had only one car. There was a once a week trip to town for grocery shopping and picking up other items. Most of our clothes were made by Mom, and many of the outfits were matching ones for my younger sister and I. Much to my sisterís consternation, once I outgrew my clothes they were handed down to her.
Looking at the rocking chair that has been in Momís living room for as long as I can remember, I think of the many babies lulled to sleep in that chair. Mom asked me one time what I wanted after she dies. Itís not a subject I want to even think about but, in reality, it will happen. After some thought, I told her that if my sisters didnít object, I would like her rocking chair and her Bible.
The Bible is the King James version in a black zippered case, and I remember as a kid how awed I was that in the center between the old and new testaments, there was a place for family history, and Mom had actually written in this very special book, listing her and Dadís wedding date and other family births and events.
This era of folks knew the Great Depression and grew up saving everything and being conservative with money and possessions. If it still works or has some wear left in it, thereís certainly no sense in replacing it.
Such a contrast to todayís world. I often think how difficult it must be for persons in their 80s to relate to the cultural norms of todayís younger people. My motherís philosophy is, ďI canít do anything about it, so thereís no sense in laying awake worrying about it,Ē but I know some of the behaviors of the younger persons in our family are troublesome for her. And rightly so. The changes over my parents lifetimes are enormous, some good, some not so good.
The inside of my parentsí home reminds me of what is really the most important. Family, faith and memories of times past, both good and bad are what make us what we are today. Iím a senior citizen myself but Iím certainly not too old to learn valuable life lessons from the inside of a home filled with love and happy memories.
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