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Friday, February 25, 2005
The Good Old Days
"Those were the good old days..those were the good old days. The years go by by the memory fades, but those were the good old days."
--Weird Al, "The Good Old Days."

When I was in the eighth grade, one of the projects I worked on was one that looked at the history and genelogy of my family. (Which at the time I thought would be an easy A I had my Uncle Wallace was fascinated by genelogy and had researched and compiled a genelogy of my mother's side of the family back to the Mayflower)

One aspect of the project was to interview your grandparents, which at the time I was fortunate enough to have a full compliment of grandparents around and able to assist me with this. Because we lived in California at the time and my grandparents lived in Tennessee and Virginia, I mailed the series of questions to them for them to fill out at their leisure and send back to me. I figured I'd get more information and memories if they had time to think about the answers--plus long distance wasn't five cents a minute back in those days.

As the weeks passed and the due date loomed, I got anxious for the questions and answers to come back. Finally they did and I was eager to see what my grandparents had said.

Let me just tell you, the answers were eye-opening. Every one of my grandparents obviously put a lot of time and thought into these answers. And all the answers are in their own handwriting and when I read them I can hear my grandparents talking. The project is one of the few from my school years I've kept and it's extremely valuable to me.

As much as I was stunned and amazed by all the answers I got, it was the ones from my mother's father, my Granddaddy that have really stuck with me. Granddaddy was in the U.S. Army and he fought in World War 2. He was also in the Army for years after the way, including time station in Germany and Paraguay (I love to hear the stories about my mom living in Paraguay from my grandparents). However, he never really talked much about his time fighting. But this interview he went into some stories about the experience that my mother hadn't even heard about--including a time when a buddy not more than fifty paces away was killed by a land mine. Reading that, I can see why it's not exactly something you want to discuss and it also helps make sense of why Granddaddy doesn't like to watch movies about World War 2 combat.

Another one of the questions on the sheet was "To you, what were the 'good old days'?

The answer Granddaddy gave was so profound that it's stuck with me today. He said, "The good old days are now, every day. The past had its good and bad, but these are the good old days spent with my wife, my daughter and her husband and my grandchildren."

Those words have really stuck with me over the years. It's easy in life for us to fondly remember the past or look for a better future or tomorrow and miss the wonder and excitment that is today. A couple of months ago, Barry posted a great piece on how tomorrow is only 24 hours away...and as I read it, I heard the sentiment and thought Granddaddy was saying echoed in Barry's words.

There's a song I like called "Lend Me A Sunrise" The chorus goes, "Lord, lend me a sunrise and I'll gvie it back to you when the day is done. Lord, lend me a sunrise. I want to live one day at a time."

You know, I'm as guilty as the next person of not making the good old days today. I look to the future saying, "Oh, things will be better when..." Like when I was out of work and I just knew life would get better the minute I found the right job. Or looking back at the past. To use the age old adage of all Star Trek fans, "It's just not as good as it used to be." But in doing that, I miss the wonder of today..and today is really the only thing I have. I need to listen to the widsom of Granddaddy more and live each day, enjoying it, savoring it, being thankful for it. Now that doesn't mean every day is gonna be wonderful. We're all gonna have an off-day from time to time. But I prefer to think and hope that today is going to be a good day. It may not be particularily memorable in the grand scheme of things (if you've ever read the play Our Town, you remember that they won't go back to a hugely memorable day, but just to an ordinary one because even an average day is full of such wonder) but it can still be a "good old day." Every day has that potential--it's just whether or not we choose to see that potential and take advantage of it.

So, my challenge to you and to me is to take the advice of my grandfather. Go out and make today one of the "good old days."

posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/25/2005 08:24:00 AM | |
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