I find as I grow older that remembering is a ritual associated with several possible identifiable situations. One is talking to my cousins about shared times, and especially those who remembered me at my worst as well as my best. For instance as a child I tended to be the 3rd wheel, so rather than follow my best instincts when asked to make a final decision( could one of the younger cousins play with us that afternoon?), I answered no, in order to be on the safe side. Years later we were talking about growing up (the younger cousin and I), I said something about our childhood that I hoped was noncommittal and the first thing she remembered was my lack of kindness and compassion when she was following us around. I had not quite forgotten, but I didn’t want to bring it up. Since then our friendship has been somewhat better and I think I’m forgiven or she just was able to forget about it.
Everything will be okay. Learning from the young and sharing what we know.
Another way of remembering is talking to young people that I interact with. I was born to be a librarian, but we moved so often that I didn’t work in any one job for a prolonged period of time. However for about 7 years we lived in Clarence, NY in a town just a little outside of Buffalo. Clarence has one of the best small libraries I’ve ever volunteered in or seen. The library was so beloved that it had over 100 volunteers who did real work to help support the library. Like many parts of the country the library’s funding and staff was cut back year after year. Somehow, it remained a wonderful and creative place.
I mainly checked books out and occasionally read stories to the children, worked in the used bookstore and did a variety of other little jobs.
We had a large clientele of children and older people. I used to let the children help me check the books out and when I wasn’t too busy would ask them about their favorites. If they had a book I didn’t already know, I asked them to please tell me about the book, when they returned it, so I knew whether or not to recommend the books to other children. Sometimes they would rush to the desk and tell me about something they had done. In one case this young man (naturally a teen) felt oppressed by his mother, and I just listened mostly to what he said. He would come to the library to read books his mother had forbidden.(Nothing most of us would be horrified about our children exploring). But I had the privilege of being a listening post and sharing in their adventures as I watched them mature. I talked to older people who had stories to tell when the desk was free as they stopped by to visit and realized what interesting travels and lives they had had.
As when I used to work at the University Library, they would bring me little presents. Sometimes cookies that they had baked. One gave me a little rubber band like bracelet that was popular with the 6 or 7 years old at that time. Sometimes I gave some of my books to children that I believed they needed. Once I had done a story time with a friend about collecting things and had brought a rock collection and a group of sea shells for each child to choose from to take home. One young man really wanted a rock, but I had brought some geodes that were my husband’s, so I found one for him to take home that pleased him. Later when he visited the library I gave him a rock that I had picked up off of a Georgian beach that was particularly beautiful.
Now my husband and I work out at a place that specializes in muscle strengthening and balance and all the stuff we baby boomers try to do to stay healthy. Now I like to talk to our young trainers and as they teach me, I have the opportunity to learn again about the wonderful generations coming up. They are just as beautiful and amazing as we must have been when we were younger. I only wish that we were leaving them a healthier planet.
My husband who is not particularly cognizant of the importance of climate warming and what needs to be done is even helping me set up a garden that may survive at least the early disasters of climate change and perhaps keep more species of native plants, insects, humans, and animals alive.
As my youngest son once said to me when we were discussing these issues, “Mom the planet will be here, even when all the humans are gone. Everything will be okay.”
born, lived, cried, appreciated, lost, found, lived, laughed, flew in my dreams,
taught others to fly in their dreams, became a telescope reflecting the stars,
dove to the depths of despair ,recovered and walked along the beach as the water escaped from the sea and erased my footprints.