Posts Tagged ‘childhood in the 40’s and 50’s’

The world is like that—incomprehensible and full of surprises. (Jorge Amado)

This photo of me and my brother is over sixty years old. It needs a caption: You mean this is my sister and I’m stuck with her? Or, that wasn’t a kiss, it was so slobbery I thought you were a Great Dane. I can’t use the informal word, pic, for any of the photos I found hidden in our attic. They belong to the time of rotary phones and black-and-white television. Folk wore suits and dresses, even to sporting events.

I can be found among my brothers easily in the collection. I’m wearing the frills. And yet the expressions on the faces of my family remain universal: Enthusiasm. Joy. Excitement. Wonder. Change the hairstyles and put jeans and sweatshirts on the people in the scenes and they couldn’t be distinguished from one taken in a modern family fifteen minutes ago. Although I’m not sure how to describe my brother in this picture: surprised maybe, definitely cute.

Little people remain little people in any age, in any culture. For me life didn’t exist beyond that floral stuffed chair and my back yard, Mom, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa and my brother, Bill. The future extended no further than alphabet soup for lunch or a picnic with Aunt Bette and Uncle Harold. Childhood seemed eternal.  Even at the advanced age of five, the fact that I would one day become a grandparent would have sounded as outlandish as Jack climbing the beanstalk and facing a giant. Actually, the giant appeared more believable. After all, I had scarcely reached the height of an adult’s naval by that time, probably not that high. I was a runt from the day I was born at four pounds and seven ounces.

Children believe life is what they live, wherever it is. In peace or in war. In the city or country. In a healthy home or one where love is only a word.

The multiple scenes of a baby girl in a silly floppy hat give me the notion that my family was excited to begin a new generation. Not everyone has had that experience. People tend to expand their own experience into another person’s thinking. One of my favorite quotes comes from Anais Nin, “We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.”

Perhaps that is why I find it so important to tell my grandchildren how innately good they are, every time I see them. At least once. And to encourage them when they show compassion for others. Nine-year-old Kate talks about setting up a benefit for a friend in need. No, I have no idea how she would do it. But that won’t stop me from encouraging her. The world is filled with surprises, and even if those surprises aren’t wonderful, if children learn they have power deep inside, they will be okay. At least eventually. That is my prayer.

Bill and me 08192013_0000

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