Sunday, October 16, 2011

A House, An Era

The old faded photograph sat on the small table between two large recliner chairs… my Mom handed it to me as she explained the reason for its proximity.   The photo showed an old brick house. “This is the house that your Dad grew up in”, she stated. I was visiting my parents when this occurred, they are in their eighties…. and the photo grabbed my attention.  The brick house had a charming look with beautiful detail of trim and stonework.

My Dad quickly came to my side to tell me that under the front porch was a “coal cellar” and a “fruit cellar”.  Well, now they really had my attention, having my own recent interests of home canning and the food storage challenges that result.  Boy! would I love to have a fruit cellar!  I was trying to wrap my mind around a visual, so my questions began…

My Dad explained that the house was built in 1935.  It was 1936 when his family moved in to this brand new “bungalow” style home, a word that I found amusing.  Bungalow” seems an inappropriate association with an old, brick house, but I had to remember that the home was new and modern back in the day. 

Apparently, the two “cellars”, described by my Dad, were sort of like walk in closets - each with a door that stemmed off the basement. The basement was much larger and my Dad spoke of “dances” held by “Aunt Olivette” in this part of the house.

The memories of having to go downstairs to shovel coal into the furnace each morning and several times a day were told by both of my parents. As my interest about details peaked, the memories continued to flow; each parent’s stimulating each other’s remarks with another.  I was clear that these visits with my parents and the conversations held between us were precious.

My Dad described the “small monkey stove” that sat in front of the furnace. It was lit only for those times hot water was needed, such as when it was time to shower or wash dishes or clothes.  Each time someone had to go and light the monkey stove and wait for the water to heat.  I know why my Mom and Dad seemed to stress this part of the description. Our spoiled generations insist on frequent long hot showers no matter where we are or what the agenda is.  Of all of the people I know, Shelby would be the only young person that truly understands the luxury of running water, let alone instantly hot water ready and waiting for one’s desired use.

Returning home from my visit, I had so many thoughts running through my in my head of how things progress over one's lifetime, I remembered what my GrandDaddy said when I was visiting him and I remember the excitement of gathering around a small television to watch the moment of “man walking on the moon”.   With amazement, he just shook his head and said, “what a great era I have lived, from horse-and-buggy to man-on-the-moon!”  He was in his seventies.

I returned home from my visit and the newscasts were suddenly full of the news of Steve Jobs death.  This great visionary and creator of Apple Products had his life cut abruptly short.  Only one year older than I, his fate of contracting pancreatic cancer brought his productive life to conclusion. The memorials and tributes flowed freely for days to come.  It was an end of an era.

My thoughts grabbed at a small part of what he said in his commencement speech to the Stanford raduating Class of 2005.  He spoke of “looking back” and “connecting the dots”.  In this present day, when phrases like “don’t look back” and “live in the present”  are prevelent, I realized how refreshingly important his advice was to each of us.  There is great value in looking back at all the things along the way, these occurrances make us who we are…  To really know one’s self, how else but to look back and connect the dots?  Reflecting on history is one of the most important components in decision-making that I know.

I think about the short era Steve Jobs lived.  He and I most certainly sat in the same type of classroom, reading the same “Weekly Reader” that told of futuristic times when every household would have a computer for personal use.  His short life of 56 years spanned from when computers were barely heard of, all the way to the barrage of computerized electronic necessities in almost everyone’s hands.  And, mostly due to his own vision of progress.

I see the joy when my parents reminisce and tell stories to the younger family members.  And, as they share them with us, there is importance to what we get to take with us, making up who we are!  Living life is a chance to connect the dots!  It reminds me of the reason for the title of this Blog.  It is not so much about a certain destination in life.  The matters of the heart are really about all of the little things that happen along the way… through the Journey….