JoAnn Swearingen, author and artist
Perhaps I’m seeing age from a different angle, but it seems that society’s opinion of age has changed. I remember my grandmother. While cleaning out closets I came across the beginning of a biscuit quilt that my grandmother created out of scraps—rags, stuff that we think today belong in the landfill or never see because we don’t let our clothes disintegrate into scraps. We prefer paper towels and quilts from the antique store or local boutique. Grandma’s quilts are treasured, but we don’t have time or the need to use up every inch of what we have.
I didn’t see her as “old’ although today she would qualify as a senior citizen. To me, she was intriguing. I thought my parents knew a lot, but she seemed to know more. My mom knew how to crochet, tat, and knit but didn’t produce the beautiful décor that my grandmother had.
Nursing homes were deemed horrible places and only the poor were doomed to live there. Spare rooms and grandma suites were provided for many. Grandmothers and sometimes aging aunts took care of the home and children while the parents worked. My grandmother didn’t come to live with us, but I wish she had. She taught me to crochet, but I could have learned so much more. How she a housewife summoned the courage to move into a house in town and live by herself for a while when grandpa refused to. But it was only the beginning of that era of retiring to a place in town, and she soon moved back to the farm.
When it came her turn, my mother progressed graciously into great-grand motherhood. She faithfully sent letters every week and cards on special occasions. My children and grandchildren still remember how loved they felt when a few dollars came in the mail every year at birthday and Christmas time. They welcomed her correspondence as something as precious as those bygone quilts painstakingly sewn together by the light of a coal oil lamp by my grandmother. My oldest grandchildren are almost grown now, and I feel I’m becoming one generation removed from the family. My children and eventually my grandchildren will all scatter. If we’re fortunate, we’ll be able to have holiday get-togethers, but the sense of family has changed. My grandmother filled the void with teaching lost arts and my mother with letters, cards and small money gifts.
But what am I going to contribute?
I’m transforming myself into a “technie” to keep up because even my e-mails fail to get answered today—texting is the in thing. However, texting is evolving into skyping. If great-grandma wants her great-grands to know what she looks like and/or talk to her, she’ll have to buy a special telephone and set up a skype account.
Something seems wrong with that picture. And I’m not sure how to “fix” it or how I can toggle into the modern generations with my “old-fashioned” ways. After thinking about it, I’ve decided perhaps keeping pace with the changing technical world is not what the grandchildren or children, whether mine or those of a friend, want from me. Instead, they sincerely want to know what it was like when I was a child, a young adult, or if their grandmother, a young mother raising their mom or dad, etc. Our youngest grandson heard about war at school and wanted to know all about what being in the “service” was like for granddad.
I couldn’t resist and also told him what it was like when granddad and I met. I told him grandpa told me I was “beautiful.” He loved it, but his response? “Ewwww.”
Nope, being an old gal or geezer may have its connotations, but it’s also a good thing. And I feel it’s up to us aging matriarchs and patriarchs to determine for ourselves what of value we want to imprint in the minds of the future generations. And figure out how we can link our pasts with their present and futures.
|JoAnn is a writer and artist. Visit her art website at: joannswearingenfineart.com
and her blog athttp://www.joannswearingenauthor.com/
art website: joannswearingenfineart.com.