Monday, April 21, 2014

From One Generation to the Next

“A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.” ~ Ecclesiastes 1:4

As we all wrap up our respective holidays (Passover and Easter), the one thing that the holidays have in common is family.  This is a time to put aside differences and get together to celebrate with our families (including extended family), as a family.  As time passes and we age, we see ourselves going from the younger category to the middle category and eventually to the older category.  For each generation, it is important to spend time with our elders, because their life experiences will one day become one with the universe, never to be tapped into again.

I remember sitting with my grandfather, may he rest in peace, and listening to him tell the stories about living in Europe (he grew up in the town of Skalat), coming to America, providing for his mother and sisters and eventually his family.  Every so often, he would say that he should write a book about how the streets in the US were paved with gold, because compared to his early life, life in America gave him the chance to have a lifestyle beyond his imagination.  I remember talking to my wife early in our marriage about sitting with Grandpa and videotaping his stories so that we would have them as a legacy to pass on to our children.  Unfortunately, I procrastinated and lost my grandfather in 1997, a few months after the birth of Rebecca.  It became my responsibility at that point to pass on the stories that I had valued and listened to over and over to my children and one day, G-d willing, my grandchildren.

I know that many times we look at our older / aged folks as nothing more than what we see with our eyes and forget that they too had amazing lives and stories to share.  It is hard when you are young to realize that the wealth of knowledge of a single human being is not captured in a cloud somewhere or communicated through some fashion of social media.  If we all kept personal journals, our experiences would be available for future generations to sift through.  Alternatively, if we all sat down and wrote out an autobiography, the same would occur.  But, alas, this is not so.  I would propose an experiment – have our young sit with the elders and have the elders of the group share something from when they were young.  Then have one of the youngsters tell what they want to achieve by the time they are the elder person’s age.  Except for the skin that they wear, they might find out that they have some things in common.  Help build the bridge between the generations.   Maybe then, some of our family stories will survive from one generation to the next.