Been There, Done That!

By Gipp Forster


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It’s difficult, if not impossible, for our grandchildren to comprehend that when their grandmother and I were their age, we didn’t have television, cellphones, microwave ovens or computers. We didn’t have ballpoint pens or power lawnmowers. They look at us as if we may be just teasing them with wild and impossible stories. Like senility has begun to practise on the playing field of our brain.

They don’t know what a straight razor is, or a razor strop! They look blank when you mention a chenille bedspread or oil cloth stretched across a kitchen table.
They say, “yeah, right!” when you tell them you got only one gift at Christmas. They laugh when we say we sat and watched the radio.

It’s all relative, I guess. I couldn’t comprehend my grandparents telling me that when they were young, they didn’t have telephones, radios and, in many cases, electricity! They talked of coal oil lamps and singing around a piano - and the family all taking part in games and conversation. They talked of privation and struggle, hardship and challenge. And I guess their grandparents before them spoke of settling and planting and turning the ground in search of a home; of toil and sweat to make ends meet.

As I look back on the rolling hills of accumulated years, I can’t help but wonder what our grandkids will tell their grandchildren when they come face to face with their many yesterdays and ever fewer tomorrows. What will they see and shake their heads at with wonder?

Cars without wheels that hover above the ground and travel at incredible speeds without sound, fueled by the sun? Vapour-type machines that can transport a body or bodies from Point A to Point Z in a matter of seconds? A time when supersonic jets are referred to as antiquated objects from the past? Or will that be their grandchildren when *they* become grandparents?

All is relative to the time, I guess.

If I had told my grandparents that in 40 or 50 years, phones would be carried around in pockets and computers would give instant information on any given subject, they probably would have wanted to have me examined to see if my brain was intact.

When I was young, I never thought I’d be old! Forty or 50 were old to me then. Now look at me: 70+ years and still waiting to get old - looking back to when I refused to look ahead. Now, I consider 40 or 50 to be young and 125 to be old!
Times and thoughts sure change when you’ve been there and done that!

There’s things I’d like to go back and do: throw a forward pass, tread water for an hour, run the 100-yard dash in 30 seconds - things I didn’t, or couldn’t, do the first time around.

But, all in all, I wouldn’t trade today for yesterday. Who wants to trade experience for foolishness? Man’s ingenuity and inventive mentality today staggers the imagination of what we thought and comprehended when we were young - in the days when all things seemed far simpler and more worthwhile.

Our grandchildren don’t understand our sighs and the occasional misty-eyed memory. But one day they will: when their grandchildren look at them in disbelief when they tell them of days long ago. We are old to them now but, one day, they may sigh and say, “Oh, to be 60 again!”

At one time, I counted my silver dollar collection and/or my comic book collection or my Disney collection. Now, I count my collected years. Some used to covet my collections, but no one seems to covet my collection of years - especially those who have fewer than me. It is a far more rewarding and valuable than my other collections! It is filled with on-the-wall telephones, ice boxes, running boards on cars, mail delivery twice a day and milk in glass bottles.

Value, I suppose, is not always in the eye of the beholder, but often only in the eyes of the beholden. Today is a little bit fast for me, and I’m a little too slow for it!

A young person said to me recently, “You mean you don’t even know how to use a computer?”
And I, in turn, said to him, “You mean to tell me you don’t even know what an Underwood typewriter is?”
All things even themselves out - sooner or later!

JULY 2009 SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER

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What's it take to become a sublime exdounper of prose like yourself?

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