The Aches and Pains of Growing Up

Every day I hear stories about the “good ole days.” Typically, I have heard adults refer to the “good ole days” with fond memories and stories that go on for hours at a time.  Times have changed so much. I now hear stories about “graduating from high school,” as being the “good ole days.”  It is almost if a portion of time is playing itself in reverse.

For instance, I can remember my grandmother talking about getting married to my grandfather. She was a mere child when they were married.  Somehow she managed to birth 11 children, well 10 births, if you count a set of twins.  She ran a household, and then went on to work, and later volunteer at the nursing home in the town I was raised in. 

Grandmother always took time with her grandchildren too. And with 11 children, there were a bunch of them too. I remember learning to cook at seven years old.  Back then, little girls were supposed to grow up and raise a family.  It was expected of them. By the age of 18, you would be married, graduated high school and be ready to start a family.

But times had changed by the time I graduated. Young girls no longer were passionate homemakers.  They were die-hard college activists. They would graduate, start a job, attain a career, and somewhere along the way, pick up that extra degree – MRS.

Now time has reverted quickly to the latter. My oldest daughter graduated this year from high school. Over 60% of her female class will maintain jobs in the communities as homemakers.  Others will trample to the community college, some other colleges as well, to go in search of a career.  Nervously, they will enter the workforce one day.  Some prepared and ready, others barely able to balance a checkbook. As this generation has so many children that were promoted by age, rather than by merit.

What am I saying all of this about Grandmother, jobs, and stories to mean? As I know I have mentioned before, and will mention again, time after time, we tend to forget things as time goes on.  I will never forget the last night Moe stayed.  She has a contagious laughter that draws you in. She has a foul mouth, with a southern accent. For some reason, that makes it sound a little more ladylike when she mutters something she shouldn’t under her jaded tongue.

We were sitting in the living room, brushing our hair, like mothers and daughters do, when they do not want to bothered by men. “What are you going to do when you graduate?”, I asked.  She said, “Oh, get married to my boyfriend, and find a job. I may go to college or something.” I said, “Honey, you will barely be 17. You have your whole life to be someone’s wife, why not be on your own for a while?”  She replied, “I will, he is a good choice for my first husband.” Not a smirk, or quiver in her voice.  And as I watched their class graduate, one right after the other, I cried.

Published September 22, 2011, Ruston Daily Leader, The Park Bench.

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