In this year of celebrating the 75th Anniversary of D-Day and remembering all the years in our past, I have been thinking a lot about my parents. They have both passed on now and I have so many questions I wish I had asked them while they were still able to give me the answers.
My parents knew each other their whole lives. They were born in the same town four days apart. My mom was the youngest of all girls and my dad the youngest of all boys. My two grandmothers were in the hospital together and joked about how they should trade babies so they would have a different-sex child in the family.
And those two babies grew up and got married (I always thought that was a great premise for a movie). So where are all the stories of growing up together? Going to school together? Seeing each other around town? Knowing each other forever? I wish I had asked.
And I don’t know exactly how they got married. They didn’t date in High School, so it must have happened during WWII. I wish I had asked how my dad proposed and how they planned the wedding. Did they have a honeymoon? What did they wear? How did they know they were right for each other? I wish I had asked.
I wish I had asked what prompted them both to enter the service. My dad tried to enlist and found out he was color-blind, which meant he could only go into the Navy Seabees – Construction Battalion. My mother, believe it or not, was a Marine. I think she enlisted because of her sister Irene, who also joined the Marines. But why the Marines? I wish I had asked,
I wish I had asked them how they felt about the war. Were they ever afraid, confused, proud, ashamed or conflicted as an American? Were they glad to be in the Military? Sorry they joined? I wish I had asked.
I wish I had asked them how things were after the war. They were married and started having children right away. My dad was in college on the GI Bill. I think they were living in a mobile home park. Sounds like an “I Love Lucy” segment, doesn’t it? That couldn’t have been easy. But how did they manage? Was being a veteran a proud thing? How did they feel? I wish I had asked.
I wish I had asked them about their thoughts of early parenthood. My mother had three children in three years while my dad was going to school. And she had no family nearby. But I never heard the stories. Were they too horrible? Just forgettable? What? I wish I had asked.
How I wish I could sit down with both of them and ask these and other questions. When I had the chance, I didn’t think of it or it didn’t seem necessary. Now that it’s too late, I’m thinking of so many things only they can answer.
My advice to others – ask the questions NOW!! Don’t wait!! And if you are the elder in your family, write down all the stories for the younger ones. Don’t wait to be asked. Don’t wait until someone else thinks of it. Don’t wait for the perfect time. Just don’t wait. Do it NOW. Because then it will be too late and they will say – I wish I had asked.
I have spent the last week talking to each of my grandchildren for various reasons. I found myself complimenting them for their good work and encouraging them to continue to do well. These words are important to hear whether the grandchild is 22 or 11, as mine are.
I know sometimes words of encouragement don’t easily flow out of our mouths, so here are some suggestions for you. Practice them and use them as often as you can. Kids cannot hear them often enough from their elders.
1–That was so good of you!
2–Great job! I’m so proud of you!
3–Thank you for doing that on your own.
4–That was so kind of you!
5–Fantastic! Thanks for obeying the first time!
6–You know what? You are a great kid!
7–I really appreciate what you did!
8–Look at what you’ve accomplished!
9–Thanks for doing that before I asked!
10–What a great decision you made!
11–Tell me more about that.
12–You figured it out! That’s awesome!
13–One step at a time – you’re doing it!
15–Good for you! You were really listening!
16–I know that was hard, but you kept trying.
17–I love how creative you are!
18–Keep going! You can do it!
19–Thank you for sharing with me.
And don’t forget the all important . . . . . .
20–I love you!
My ten year old granddaughter Marie tells me she wants to be part of the musical play being put on at school. She loves to sing and thinks she would do well in one of the parts.
The problem? Marie is very shy, hates being the center of attention and is not very comfortable with crowds. “I’m scared Granny!” she tells me.
The tryout is a sort of Karaoke style which Marie was not able to do the first time but is going to try to do again.
“How can I do it if I’m so scared?” she asks.
I tell her it has nothing to do with being scared. Everyone is scared . . . . . about something . . . . . always. We all are. Big people, little people, shy people, gregarious people, introverts, extroverts, inexperienced, experienced, smart, dumb, all people are afraid at sometime about something. It happens to EVERYONE . . . . . ALL THE TIME.
So what is the solution? I tell her that brave people act even though they are scared. It’s just that simple – Do it anyway, no matter how scared you are!
Then there was a short pause in the conversation. I guess Marie was thinking because she said in a tiny little voice, “Are you saying I’m brave?”
“Absolutely, I’m saying you’re brave! I think you are the bravest ten year old I know. You are scared and you are still going to tryout again. And this time you will do it, because you will imagine me sitting out front in the audience cheering you on and passing strength to you with my smile.”
“Now do you think you can do it?” I ask. “Yes, I can Granny. Yes, I can. I’m going to go right up there and sing my song as best as I can. I know I can do it this time!” says Marie.
I think Marie completely understood the meaning of bravery. She understood the fear was not going to leave or get any less. She understood the attention was all going to be focused on her. She understood there would be a large audience of people listening to her perform. She would face some of her biggest fears head on. But if she really wanted to sing, she would have to act in spite of the fears not flee because of them.
I believe she will. I believe she believes in herself and knows that others believe in her. She’s brave and we know it. Most especially, she knows it!
I expect to hear next week that Marie made it through the tryout successfully and has a part in the play.
My Marie is so brave, she may forget all her fears while she is singing and end up with the lead in the play. It could happen! It’s happened to other brave girls in the past, I’m sure.
She comes from a long line of brave women. Her mother is most wonderfully brave and her Granny is . . . . . well, I try to set the standard for the women in my clan, so yes, I am brave.
And Marie will be too because she will see it in others in the family. She will be taught by others in the family. She will be strengthened by others in the family. And her bravery will be appreciated and enjoyed by others in the family.
Bravery of this sort requires the work of the village. It very seldom can be done by oneself in a vacuum. It requires example, training, support, encouragement and reward.
So I say again, this will work because the village has Marie’s back . . . . and front and sides and insides and outsides. She’s covered. She will be brave and she will succeed.
That’s what a child needs to be brave. 1–See it in others. Have an example to go by. 2–Be taught by someone. Have it explained. Hear words that will be remembered and then passed on to the next generation. 3–Be strengthened by others who help her prepare, listen to her practice, give constructive advice, help her to and from performances, help her get dressed, etc. Others to be in the audience and make it a big deal. 4–Plan for the success. Don’t be surprised and unready to celebrate the good news when it comes. Let the child know you were expecting it.
Any amount of bravery, even one small act, is to be applauded and celebrated. The events will build on one another. Being brave gets easier, but should never be taken for granted.
I can hardly wait to hear the good news next week about Marie’s tryout.
I have complete faith!