Today we celebrate the 91st birthday of my sweet mother-in-law.
My mind has a hard time wrapping around this. Not that she's lived to this age; people often live into their 90's. But the wonder for me is in thinking back over all of the things she has witnessed in almost a century of life.
I have a hard enough time grasping the fact that the high school graduates of today have never used a record player or know what a 33 RPM album is, much less an 8-track tape! They can't remember a time when there were no home versions of computers. Telephones have always been touch tone, and I seriously think they'd have a hard time learning how to work the dial on one of the phones I grew up with. Air conditioning in homes and schools is a given.
Black and white televisions are almost non-existent, and if you get less than a gazillion and five channels on your super huge, high definition, surround sound, wide screen, flat, remote control color television you are obviously deprived in some way and in need of some sort of public assistance. Dishes are washed by machines instead of by hand. Coffee is made by drip pots or espresso machines instead of on the stove, and food can be defrosted in the microwave if you forgot to take it out to thaw. Cars are equipped with everything a person could want, including complete entertainment systems.
I used to make fun of my father and his lectures about how hard times were when he was growing up. He would compare my life with his, pointing out how good my life was compared to the hardships he had to face growing up. Although I love him, I have to disagree with him on some things.
I'm sad for my children. Sad about the things they will never know or experience, simply due to the enormous amount of technology and "improvements" in life as we know it today.
I am sad they will never know what it is to experience hot summer days with no air conditioning and the joy of popsicles purchased from the ice cream man. I am sad they missed out on finding a cool shade tree to play under outside when temperatures were in the 90's, using their own imaginations to come up with mountains to climb and dragons to slay, or simply swinging on the swingset for hours on end. I'm sad they won't know the sleepy, lazy feeling of reading a book on a summer day with a cold bottle of grape Nehi and a box fan providing a breeze.
I'm sorry they don't know about singing hymns and silly songs together while doing the dishes, or the arguments because one person tried to dry the just the silverware instead of the pots and pans. I'm sorry they've missed out on watching the coffeepot to make sure it didn't boil over as it percolated. I wish they could have known my grandmother and spent time with her, tending her garden and picking vegetables. I'd love for them to have been on the front porch with us, breaking beans or shelling peas for dinner.
But even though I long for my children to have been able to share the memories of these simple pleasures with me, here's what I've learned: Each generation has its own memories and special times. Each generation has its own stories to tell.
Technology will advance and the the things we find amazing today will seem mundane and outdated twenty years from now. But my children will still have their own special times to remember and tell to their children. They won't be my memories, but their own. People who were special to them, places they love and traditions that hold a special place in their hearts will be passed on to my grandchildren. And when this happens, my children will hold a small, bittersweet piece of their hearts for the times my grandchildren will never know.
Just as I do now. Just as my parents did, and their parents before them. These things never change.
It's comforting to me that my memories will not be forgotten. Even when my mind becomes incapable of remembering, I know that God holds each and every one for me, safe and sound. God is the one thing I can count on, the One who will always be there, who has always been there, and is here even as memories are created. He has lasted from the very first generation onward, and will be here when the last generation ends. He is the one memory that will not fade. He is the One who remains constant, the One who remains faithful throughout all generations and all time.
And for me, that's enough.
I WILL sing of the mercies of the LORD forever; With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations. (NKJV)
For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation. New Living Translation Â© 1996 Tyndale Charitable Trust