Yesterday, was my grandmother’s wake and today is her funeral. She was my last living grandparent - I never knew her husband, my Grandpa Rex, because he passed away before I was born. My grandmother, Margaret Mausser, died in 1989 and my grandfather, Bill Mausser, died when I was 18. Grandma Gertie lived to be 96. She lived a full life, with plenty of adversity, but for the most part a positive attitude. Her experiences were varied and looking at photos during the wake yesterday it was wonderful to see how broad and genuine her smile was. When she was happy she was truly happy.
I told my husband last night that when I find myself crying, it’s not only from a sense of sadness at losing my grandmother, but it also is from a sense of loss of memories of an entire generation. These are the last of those that had the Old World values of their Turn-of-the-Century immigrant parents, grandparents and great-grandparents who came to this country and really built it during the Industrial Revolution and the Age of Opulence. The Greatest Generation, as they’re known, had a Jack of All Trades of mentality. They grew up in an age when many people still used real horses for farm labor and clothes were sewn as opposed to being bought from the store. They knew how to grow their own food, prepare their own food and store their own food. If something was broken, they knew how to repair it and didn’t just go to the store and buy a new one. Their families were incredibly important - their children their greatest treasures - not a new house or cars. God and church were an irrefutable part of life and I think there was a greater belief in something bigger than themselves and the material world we live in now.
Life was a struggle, but everyone was in it together and the goal was to enjoy the little things and the things that truly mattered - relationships with others and meaningful experiences. I’m not saying EVERYONE believed this or lived it (my Mausser grandparents, for example, definitely liked their stuff) but most of the people I know from this generation seemed to live by a code of simplicity that seems to be lost in our high-speed, high-expectation, high-strung society.
As I reflect on my grandmother’s life, it reminds me to step aside now and then from the mad rush and make sure to develop strong relationships, both with others and my higher power. I want to learn more practical skills so I can do more things for myself and be of greater service, developing community as I do. Perhaps most importantly, I want to be better about smiling through it all….