My mom has been writing about her childhood in response to a poem sent to her by her sister. Of course her “way back when” is “waaaaay back then,” and as she talks about the way things were, I start doing my own cataloging of what is the same and different. Of course the changes are vast and significant between her youth in the ’30’s, mine in the ’50’s and my children of the 80’s. But I am also struck by what has been the same.
Our families remained intact while others have not. We grew up for the most part in houses, not apartments, and in neighborhoods with other children and families. My own children had the amazing experience of growing up in the same house for 20 years and are still in touch with friends from that cul de sac.
All of the generations in my family had experiences of coming together for vacations and holidays, of hearing stories of the past and present and witnessing people who were fully engaged in society and wanting to learn about and help others. Education was important and as children we were always asked what we were learning, what books we were reading, what field trip our class was going on that year.
While I remember the changes in appliances and technology, my parent’s VW bus and the beat up Dodge Dart my husband and I first put car seats into. I can look at pictures and remember fashions and toys, and of course my siblings and I will always have different stories to tell about the same occasion but I think we’d remember the big picture the same way; I am struck by the atmosphere that permeates my memories. We were a family, connected to family and with enough positive feelings about family that we went ahead and created more family.
The textures and fixtures that surrounded my mom and me and my kids may have changed from wood to metal to plastic to recycled but the essence of love and belief in the importance of one another has remained the same.