Delcamp: Generation preservationWritten by Chris Delcamp | | email@example.com
This week, my family celebrated my grandfather’s 86th birthday. He is a soft-spoken, kindhearted man who has been blessed with 40-plus grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
I watched as he received a few cards, but not much in the way of presents. It warmed my heart that, of all the children, my 2-year-old daughter sat on his lap and helped open the present from us and then blow out candles.
While I thought our gift was quite unique (a silver “Peace” dollar from the year he was born, 1927), and admittedly, he wants or needs nothing, I started to think about what he would really want if we really knew everything about him.
One thought led to another, and I thought about how very little I know about him, and for that matter, how very little I know about my own mother and father.
I feel, as I think many of my friends do, especially those with children, that I am ill-equipped for many of life’s difficulties. I come from a generation whose parents, as I see it, are greatly detached from the lives of their children. And in turn, my generation has a relative detachment from the lives of its children.
Our grandparents didn’t understand our baby boomer, hippie parents. And we don’t understand the knee socks and poor fashion sense of our parents.
The baby boomer generation was raised by blue-collar, hardworking folk who didn’t share their feelings and went to work on their worst sick day. A time when emotional support to children took a backseat to getting the lawn mowed so the neighbors wouldn’t think you were a slob. Simple lack of communication seemed to create an irreparable gap between parent and child. Now that may sound like a cliché, but it seemed very evident in my upbringing.
I love my parents, of course, but I am sure I’m not alone when I say that I don’t know them very well. My father has never spoken with me about exploits or adventures he has had, or places he’s lived. My mother never told me much about her upbringing, or what her childhood dreams were.
I decided to write about this because I think we are losing a wealth of information as our parents and grandparents age; many of my friends have already lost theirs.
But times have changed. Many children think of their parents as friends, as people they can confide in. The openness has given everyone in my generation the opportunity to break a cycle that created the rift to begin with.
However, I see many people (via Facebook) I grew up with perpetuating that cycle. I watch as they make many of the mistakes that my own parents made, and wonder why they cannot realize it. And while I understand that everyone has his or her own way of parenting, clearly there are choices being made that do not lend themselves to positive influences in a child’s growing and learning process.
An excuse you and I have always heard is, “I was raised that way, and I turned out just fine.” But in my opinion, “fine” is just not good enough for me, or my own children.
I’m not saying at all that they did a bad job, but there should be a level of protection, along with information passed down to us.
Sitting down and having a heart-to-heart with my parents about their feelings on life is a far-fetched, but it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to know things. Who knows if your parents or grandparents had dreams similar to yours, if they had the same fears or quirky habits, things that they never did but still long for to this day?
I am interested in so many things about my parents, as you should be about yours. The males particularly interest me because I think as a man, I retain much of their influence. The same as a daughter would feel toward her mother.
I am lucky enough to still have the opportunity to get that information, and might yet find the fortitude to go get it, but it’s not something I see in my near future.
I would, however, recommend that you get all the information from your parents and grandparents before you regret not doing so. Or, if you are a baby boomer, a grandparent or great-grandparent; don’t let your information be lost. Talk about it, write about it, but make it known, or it will be lost.
Chris Delcamp is a reporter and videojournalist for WNWO-TV. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.