I’m getting ready to celebrate my 25th wedding anniversary with my husband and best friend, Kent, and I realize that I’ve actually been married longer than I was single, and that means I really am getting old.
Along those lines, I believe I’ve finally joined the ranks of my ancestors. I have walked 10 miles to school (one way), while sharing shoes with my sister. Okay — so maybe I can’t lay claim to that yet, but I am starting to notice changes in the generations. Is there a certain age for this? Do you just wake up one morning, when you are 44, and “wham”, the first thing out of your mouth is, “When I was your age”?
I was explaining a math lesson to my sixth grade students the other day and I actually said those exact words before I could stop myself. There wasn’t time for the shock to set in before I caught glimpses of eye-rolling. It was priceless. I could relate to them because I had done the same thing to my parents — probably to a few teachers, too.
Have I become my parents? Please tell me it isn’t so. But wait; would that really be such a bad thing? Would it be the end of the world? I’ve finally come to a place in my life where I have begun to think of it as a compliment. One day you’re walking along laughing about how crazy your parents are, and the next you are realizing they aren’t crazy; they are just enjoying life. There’s nothing wrong with that. I think it’s great. Now that I’m halfway through my own life, I catch myself thinking about all the experiences, good and bad, that have shaped us into the people that we are today. This includes the influence of people who have been in and out of our lives over the years.
How cool would it have been to have lived in a time where your transportation started out a horse and ended up being the first car ever made? Even when I was younger I can remember thinking about these things. I was jealous because I wasn’t born in a more exciting time when I could have experienced something as cool as that, but now I realize that I was.
Am I still sorry that I didn’t get to ride in a stagecoach, travel by train across the old west or wear those huge dresses with hoops? Kind of; but I’m also glad I have central heat and air, I didn’t suffer through the Great Depression (even though I sometimes wonder if that will happen again), and I didn’t have to walk those 10 miles to school. What I have gotten to see is people going into space, life without cell phones and cars that didn’t talk and tell you where to turn or park themselves.
I can remember when my family would go on summer vacations to see other family. Mom and Dad would make sure the glove compartment was filled with maps for every state between here and Texas and Wisconsin. One of them — usually mom — had it open and making sure we were still on the right track at all times; but she wasn’t as quick as my navigation system at recalculating for road construction. I’m eager to try out the auto parking system, too. Parking off the square in Buffalo would be a piece of cake with that little tool.
Some things really have changed over the years. Not all of them are always good, though. Take people for instance. When I think about what it takes to be a good person, the first things that come to mind are God-fearing, hard-working and respectful. Sometimes, it seems like people are moving farther and farther away from these traits with every generation.
People fascinate me and I love them, so I refuse to dwell on the fact that it seems like there are too many that don’t have time to fear God. They want to get rich quick, with as little labor as possible. Many are out for themselves and don’t take time to speak to people, much less hold a door open for a young woman with a baby in one arm and holding onto a toddler with the other, or an elderly couple on a trip to Wal-Mart.
Every generation wants their kids to have an easier life than they did; but if we keep this up, what are the future generations going to be like? That’s my father’s influence coming out in me. I can tell I’m starting to think along the lines of politics, so this is where I’ll draw the line.
Every time I start to wonder about the predicament our world is getting into and what will the next generation be like, I talk to my own children or walk into a classroom full of kids and they remind me that there is still respect and the desire to work and be successful in life.
We have some pretty amazing young people around us and I feel a little more comfortable knowing they are part of our future.
I’m also looking forward to a time when I can catch one of them saying, “Back when I was in school.”
Joann Brown and husband, Kent, have a beef and dairy farm near Long Lane. The mother of three, she has been a farm/housewife, bookkeeper, 4-H leader and much more for 24 years. Three years ago, when the milking industry became a “very expensive hobby,” she decided to finish her schooling and become a teacher. She started her first teaching job in August 2012 at Halfway Elementary. “I’ve worn a lot of hats over the years, but I think I have finally found the one that fits the best,” she says.