What You Can Learn From The Greatest Generation

Today, I am making an exception to my holiday hiatus from blogging.  Read on, and you will discover why.

This time of year, I always focus on members of the Greatest Generation.  I think that is because of the observance of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and thoughts of the generation of men and women who lived through the greatest depression in our country’s history and the following events of World War II, which took so many lives and separated so many families for years at a time.  I am a child of parents who lived those experiences, and I know that there is so much to learn from them.  All you have to do is ask.  History repeats itself, so why not prepare yourself for the future.

This is all foremost in my mind today for another reason, however.  My family, including my husband and our two adult children, just returned from spreading some holiday cheer to my favorite Greatest Generation person last week in Wisconsin.  My Mom, aka “Grandma Ginny,” never ceases to amaze me.  I found myself asking her a lot of questions because I do not want the lessons of her life to escape me.  My Dad died unexpectedly years ago, and I did not get the chance to ask him as much as I would have liked.  I hope that I am a little wiser today.

If I told you her age, Grandma Ginny would ostracize me from the family.  Suffice to say that she will be eligible for membership in some centenarian society in a few short years.  She is an amazingly alert, interesting and interested person for her age, and there is a great deal to learn from her.  Here is what Grandma Ginny would tell you if you sat down with her for awhile to share a cup of tea.

Keep Physically Active:  No matter what you have to do, keep on moving.  Walk the halls of your home if you have to, but do not become sedentary.  Grandma Ginny participates in just about every exercise session at her assisted living home, and she practices what she preaches.  She also goes on all the field trips that are offered, and she encourages others to go also.  She knows the price for “settling in” too soon.

Keep Mentally Active:  Grandma Ginny does crossword puzzles, word teases, reads books, newspapers and magazines on a daily basis and watches the PBS NewsHour every night after dinner.  I think she took it personally when news anchor Jim Lehrer retired last year, but she seems to be over it now!  She refuses to watch daytime television, and most of her TV watching involves sports.  She follows her teams—UW Badgers and the Green Bay Packers—religiously, and she can tell you more about the weakness in the secondary than you might have noticed!  Admittedly, it took her a while to warm up to Bingo at the assisted living home, but winning always makes it better!

Be Resourceful and Look For Opportunities to Serve:  My personal favorite daily exercise routine for Grandma Ginny is wheeling some of her fellow residents to and from meals in their wheelchairs.  Her attitude is, “Why not?  I can walk, can’t I?”

Recently, she asked whether she could help out by folding laundry because she knows that the staff at the assisted living home is shorthanded.  So, now Grandma Ginny has a job!

Do Not Waste Time and Energy By Looking Back:  Grandma Ginny believes in looking forward, and she does not dwell on regrets.  She lost my Dad ten years ago, and she has soldiered on in an admirable way.  He would have been so proud.  She also does not waste time on the disappointing reactions of others.  She knows that life is precious, and she wants to get something positive out of every day.  She is fully aware that people are nice to you if you are nice to them, and she lives the mantra.

Be Charitable:   Grandma Ginny supports her favorite charities because it makes her feel good to know that her good fortune can help others.  She and my Dad lived their lives that way, and she continues the legacy for both of them.  She is very generous to her church, especially, and she appreciates the attention that she and her elderly friends receive from the younger church members.  She never forgets a birthday, and she insists on knowing that you did not spend her gift to pay the light bill!  She wants her generosity to be enjoyed.

So, that is what you would learn from Grandma Ginny.  It is also what you can learn from so many other members of the Greatest Generation.  If you and your Millennial Generation buddies want to be known as the Greatest Generation one day, you need to listen up.  Some lessons don’t need repackaging.  They are classics.

Speaking of classics, here’s to my Mom.  Bravo, Grandma Ginny, and thanks for the memories and the excellent example you set for all of us.  Indeed, you are a classic!


Pearl Harbor Day—-Greatest Generation—Ginny

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