Learning From Our Past

Jan - Greenville, North Carolina
Entered on September 11, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, legacy

Ever since I was a young child, I have always been drawn to my grandparents and other great aunts and uncles. I was always fascinated by their stories as young children and how their life was so much different than mine growing up. Listening to these stories has shaped how I live my life today. Some of my grandparents’ mistakes have made for funny stories, but they have also made for good life lessons.

My favorite story my granddaddy tells me is the time he accidentally blew up his hogs. He was a farmer of many different crops and livestock and he was making water basins for the hogs to lie in and had to use dynamite to make a hole. The hogs got loose and there wasn’t enough time to get them back before the dynamite exploded. The hogs were blown to bits and it was an embarrassing farming experience, but this story has taught me that even though something has gone wrong in your journey, you need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep doing what you were meant to do.

A common thread between all of my elderly relatives is that they have always been optimistic. They have gone through rough times in their lives, but adversity has never stopped them from achieving their goals. All of my grandparents grew up in harsh times. The Great Depression had a very influential impact on each of their lives and many of the ways my grandparents do things is because of the hardships in the past. Dolls and other toys were never something that my grandma had growing up because her family was too poor for her to have anything like that. As entertainment my grandma and her siblings would find a June Bug and tie a string around its leg. They would hold the string above their heads and the June Bug would fly in circles. This simple trick gave them hours of amusement. As a result of her not having many possessions, gifts like collectable dolls and other trinkets received from my grandma, even into my early twenties, are her way of showing me that I am very fortunate to be living in the era I am now.

I believe that learning from past generations will lead this generation to bigger and brighter futures. Everyone will face letdowns, but keeping in mind that generations before us have succeeded is a great relief.