Lessons From the Past

My grandparents have been on my mind a great deal lately as I see ourselves heading deeper into a turbulent time period. They were born in the early 1900’s. They grew up on horseback, later traveled in airplanes, and saw man land on the moon. They survived WWI, The Spanish Flu, The Great Depression, WWII, The Korean Conflict, The Vietnam War, and many other problems in between. They weren’t given stimulus checks but instead taxed even higher to make up for the shortages. It makes their personal and national efforts heroic.

I have been watching You-tube programs by historians who study patterns in history. The same things done today have been done throughout the ages for thousands of years. Patterns are in everything. No surprise since we know that 93% of human behavior is predictable.

With my new found knowledge, I have a rough idea why the move is toward Cultural Genocide (the destruction of statues and other historical reminders). Why the riots and other events are taking place as these events have transpires in history over and over again. Factions are employed emotionally or financially to use ruthless methods to suppress real or perceived enemies. Their told their destruction is a path to better things but in reality, destruction creates fragile, more predictable, and controllable masses.  

These patterns have never changed. The different forms of capitalism and socialism always turn out the same no matter how many times they are tried because behavior is predictable. It is a cycle in which the only variance is the time table. With the grandkids, we just finished studying a 200 year pattern of peace and now in the scriptures the people have divided into groups of ites, the Jacobites, the Nephites, the Lamanites and so forth. Sounds pretty familiar as I look around us so we know what comes next so we are trying to prepare.

By law in our state we must have a balanced budget and so far budget cuts are 30% across the board with more to come because of shortfalls. Taxes will be raised to fix roads and other necessities. I’m wondering, how did Grandma and Grandpa make it through the hard times? Things were a bit different back then but as I look at their lives, I’m seeing patterns that served them well. I remember my grandfather’s deep voice rumbling as they prayed at night around the bed thanking the Lord and asking for help. There were prayers before meals and many hours spent serving in church capacities and in charitable works. The Lord at the helm of their lives.

Spiritual strength held my grandparents together and with this they turned outwards towards the needs of others.

Grandpa was the bishop in the local ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints three different times. It was approximately 17 years of unpaid service. He was a part-time Justice of the Peace for the county serving to help counsel others. And then there were two children and 12 grandchildren all living nearby. You’d think they would not have time for each of us. They didn’t have time to stop as grandparents do today to simply play. They did something better! They made us a part of their lives. In that they taught us how to live. My siblings and I all say they had the greatest impact on who we are today. We did what they did or went along for the ride. We’d sing songs, talk, watch them work, and work beside them.

Grandpa retired from the County Weed and Pest, kept his license, and I remember a few times riding on the little gray Ford tractor out to a field, sitting by the side, while he sprayed weeds, an extra income. Then another day we’d ride to plow a garden. Grandma kept the books of his side jobs and chastised him for how often he did it for free. She paid the bills. With her talent, she kept books for two businesses in town. I’d tag along as she picked up the accounts or she did some book work in the offices, doodling on a blank piece of paper beside her. I remember the heavy metal adding machine she’d punch numbers into and then pull the handle as it tallied. We’d get ice cream at the creamery afterwards.

Grandpa routinely checked for vandalism in an empty building encased with tall chain link fence for a company being paid a small fee. I loved those trips for it was just him and I singing and chattering. He’d also tie flies, mostly in the winter, for fellow fly fisherman around the area. I’d sit on his knee tying one of my own, usually a purple wooly worm. Who ever heard of a purple wooly worm? But it was gorgeous or so he’d told me. He also had a barber’s license and cut hair in the kitchen for a small group of clientele. In summer, he’d lease a couple acres of land and grew sweet corn to sell.

After he’d mowed the lawn, we’d then get to drive the riding lawn mower with the blades turned off. Or when he flood irrigated the back lawn with the ditch water, we’d run through the 2 inches that covered the large expanse, better than a lawn sprinkler party.

It may now sound like grandma didn’t do much besides the books but she also made the presents they gave. She sewed, crocheted, tatted, and knitted to create those gifts for a large number of grandkids and some of their own clothing and bedding too. They had a big garden which Grandma canned and froze the produce for winter. They periodically raised a steer on their small pastures surrounding the house to fill the freezer. Grandpa fished or hunted pretty much every season of the year because he loved it and it provided meat. He also helped the local bee company extracted honey. The pay was really sweet.

Their income came from a broad scope of people’s needs and a diverse clientele which would mitigate losses if one area had a downfall. Some jobs were seasonal and others year round, all possible because of a large build-up of skills. At the same time they were bringing in money, they were saving money by producing as much of their needs as possible.

After they both had passed, I asked some of my cousins if they didn’t think they were grandma and grandpa’s favorite. They all said they did.

My favorite meal in the summer was cucumber and tomato sandwiches. The drink, water frozen in a plastic milk jug and thawing in the hot sun. We played Annie, Annie over their red brick home and No Bears Are Out Tonight. No, they didn’t have much money but they had something far more precious, a button box we’d rake through and image the clothes they once fastened. There were dresses and shoes to play dress up, and fresh strawberries in the garden, and cantaloupe. There were family dinners stretched down their dining room into the living room with tables and chairs borrowed from the church, and I wanted to be just like them when I grew up.

They served their community and their family and though they worked their retirement years, I truly believe they were rich.

I can’t thank them enough for the patterns of success that they set for me that included work and service. Our savings won’t be enough in retirement. There is a high likelihood it could be taken from us in the years to come by foolish decisions of others. I believe that ‘a bird in hand is worth two in the bush’ and so we shall prepare in that way. We shall gather in, and look at our skills. What could we do to create small incomes throughout the year? But there was one more very important pattern they set.

They had simple pleasures.

We need simple pleasures too and so last night we sat with two of the grandkids and finished watching a disaster movie I’d started a few days before. We cheered, boo…d. and fell all over each other, fake sobs of joy as the movie screen family was once again united miraculously and unbelievably. Then shutting it off, we helped the grandkids carve pumpkins, snapping pictures to send to family.

I’m curious, if you were in your 60’s, like us, retirement around the bend and taxes went up greatly, the stock market crashed, or your pension was shrunk due to inflation, or all three, what would you do? It definitely has our attention.

One thought on “Lessons From the Past

  1. Hi, thank you for that beautiful description of your grandparents. You are very blessed to have had an upbringing like that, which gave you lifelong, practical skills.
    To answer your question – I am 65, British, retired and started drawing my teacher’s pension at 60. To make the relatively small pension cover our costs, we have moved to Bulgaria, where we have bought a house and an acre of land at an astonishingly low price. We are surrounded by country people who all have big gardens, keep animals, and live according to old traditions. I can live on half my pension, here, where as in England I couldn’t have lived on it at all. So, if my pension shrank, I have the resources to make ends meet, and the example, skills and support of my neighbours, who live on a much smaller income than us. Bless you, stay well, Caroline


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