Words Of Wisdom From "The Silent Generation"

Words Of Wisdom From "The Silent Generation"

What would you tell your younger self if you could go back?
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The past few days, I have had the privilege of vacationing with all four of my grandparents and my cousin's grandfather (who has been like a grandfather to me for my whole life). I decided to spend some of this quality time asking them to share some of pearls of wisdom that they have come to understand over their lifetime. Here are the answers that four of them gave to the question:

Grandma

Born 1939.

"I wish that I had known that I am the one responsible for my own happiness. I wish I had known how important it is to communicate your feelings instead of keeping it bottled up; you just can’t assume other people know how you feel."

Granddad

Born 1939


"I wish I had tried to reach out more and make new friends. I was content with my small number of good, close friends, but I’ve realized over the years that you can learn so much from others; the more people you come in contact with, the more you learn. Also, at the school I went to, if you reached a certain GPA, you could take the higher rated classes, such as engineering, which was my goal. They didn’t want to fail anybody, so they let you work at your level. Looking back, I realize that I only put in enough effort to stay in the advanced program, so if I had to do it all over again, I would have tried to challenge and apply myself more. At the age I am now, I recognize the importance of helping other people, and that requires a certain level of dedication and commitment, so I realize that you should give your best in any endeavor you’re involved in. "

Mimi

Born 1935

"Don’t spend time worrying, just let God handle it. Oftentimes when you think your life has reached the end of the world, God has another plan."

Grandpa Charlie

Born 1929

"One thing I wish I had concentrated more on was going to hospitals and nursing homes and helping people who couldn’t help themselves. I was more self-centered when I was young, but as I grew older I more and more realized the value of giving my time to serve others. It benefits me because I get ten times more pleasure from helping people than helping myself; the best way I can fight my anxieties is to help others. It gives me the greatest fulfillment in life; the more I help those around me, the better I feel. It sounds simple, but it’s true. I’m 87 years old, but I can get around, so I want to help others with their struggles. I want to look back and see the impact.
When I was married and had a family, I would get more pleasure helping my wife than I did from anything else. It lifted me up. However, I think I fully learned the worth of serving others when I went to eighteen different cathedrals in Italy in 2005, which kind of turned things around. I slept in one of the cells in Assisi that the Franciscans slept in 700 years ago, and the rooms were so small (maybe 6 feet), that when I laid down my feet were almost touching each wall. Seeing the Franciscans’ sacrificial lifestyle really taught me that the more you help others, the more you help yourself. Now, I visit prisoners in jail and comfort those in hospitals, and it is so rewarding."
Cover Image Credit: Lacross Groomer

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A Letter To My Best Friend On Valentine's Day

Because you are my ultimate Valentine.
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To my beautiful best friend,

Warning: This letter is about to get extremely cheesy. I am talking four cheese lasagna cheesy. But no one deserves a love letter like this more than you do.

This Valentine’s Day, I want to express my love for you. On this wondrous occasion with which most people express their love to their significant other, I want to tell you, my best friend, how much I cherish our friendship.

SEE ALSO: A Valentine's Day Love Letter To My Girl Best Friends

You are the ultimate love of my life. Boys have come and gone but you remain a constant; for that I am grateful. You have been there for me when my family could not be; for that I am grateful. You have been my backbone, my rock, and all those other clichés people use to describe the people they care about, and yet you have been so much more than that as well; for that I am grateful.

All my love this Valentine’s Day goes out to you, my friend, because you do not receive it enough. You have picked me up out of the dirt, brushed me off, and kissed my wounds more times than I can count, and I will never be able to thank you enough for that, but I am sure am going to try.

Thank you for the midnight cries. Thank you for the midnight laughs. Thank you for ordering way too much food with me and still just eating it all. Thank you for the advice, both solicited and unsolicited. Thank you for telling me what I need to hear, even when it isn’t what I want to hear. Thank you for the silly pictures. Thank you for the stupid inside jokes. Thank you for making bad decisions with me. Thank you for laughing with me and laughing at me. Thank you for the endless memories.

SEE ALSO: An Open Letter to the Best Friend I've Ever Had

More than anything, I want you to know that I love you. I love you. You are the family I get to choose, the one I go to when I have nowhere else to turn. You are the one I know I can always run to, whether we saw each other yesterday or haven’t seen each other in a year. You have played a part in molding who I am as a person, and I am so grateful for having such an amazing person affecting my life in such a positive way.

With all the love in my heart,

Your friend
Cover Image Credit: https://www.facebook.com/natalie.pederson.5/photos

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Knowing That Someone You Love Is Going To Pass Doesn't Make It Any Easier

Death is never easy to deal with, not even when you know it's coming.

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I met Grandmom Doris when I was around 7, so I've known her for the better part of my life. She is my dad's wife's grandmother, but that doesn't mean I loved her any less. I have so many fond memories of making soup with her on rainy days, making mini pigs in blankets in her kitchen before parties with our cousins, walking to the McDonald's that was around the corner from her house, hearing the ice cream man and knowing Grandmom had a drawer with "Mister Toftee" money in it, because she knew how much we loved vanilla ice cream with rainbow jimmies.

She told us stories of when growing up, and we listened to her in awe. She had such a strong voice and the best laugh, and she touched the hearts of so, so many.

I remember playing hide and seek in her huge house and playing dress-up with her old clothes. We did Thomas Kinkade puzzles together, and of course, we sang and danced together too. We always had family Christmas parties at her house, and we loved doing word searches together. When she got her automatic stair climber, my sister and I loved to ride it up and down and up and down.

From the moment she met my sister and me, we were her girls. Our dad would say he'd bring his girls over to see her and she'd immediately correct him and remind him that we were hers.

Last Wednesday morning, we lost Grandmom Doris. We knew it was going to happen, and we've known for years now that it was coming. But, that didn't make it any easier to hear by any stretch of the imagination. We went to visit her the Saturday before, knowing it may very well have been the last time we'd ever see her.

I knew her time was coming to an end, but I didn't know she had only four days left.

I didn't want to go see her at first. I wasn't sure what kind of mental or physical state she was in, and I didn't want my final memories of her to be negative ones of her lying helpless in her bed.

I decided to go, and I will forever be so glad that I did. She was alert, and even sort of remembered my sister and me. Immediately upon seeing her, I realized how much I had missed her over the last few years.

She had pretty severe dementia, and she struggled to remember a lot, especially towards the end. She wanted my sister and me to sing for her, and of course, we did. We sang her John Denver, and we sang her L-O-V-E by Nat King Cole. It was on her CD as "Mama's Song," which is what all the adults in the family called her. She even sang some of it with us.

When we said goodbye to her for the last time, she took our hands and she told us "I'll never forget my girls," and she wouldn't let go.

We'll never forget you either Grandmom.

She lived a good life, surrounded by a family and friends who loved her unconditionally. She was 89, and all 89 of her years were spent loving those family and friends right back. I'd give anything just to hear another one of her stories.

I am so grateful that I had the privilege of knowing and loving such a wonderful lady for most of my life. Rest easy Grandmom Doris, you were and still are loved and cherished more than you could ever know. We love you.

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