Lucy Jensen
Lucy Jensen

I remember my grandparents very clearly. They were our safe harbor when things in the house were a little stormy. My grandma was quiet and sweet, mostly seen with knitting needles in her hands and a soft smile. She made the best chocolate cakes that, to this day, I can recollect melting in my mouth. My grandpa was a bit more boisterous and supported my early love of music with my blue turntable and albums. He was a pub owner and fireman. The last album he bought me was the musical “The Boyfriend.”

How one remembers those kinds of details I’ll never know. My sisters and I loved to bounce on their large bed in the spare room at our house and play games in their cupboards. Grandpa died in a car crash near our home when he was 67. Grandma lived a lot longer, though broke ribs and her collarbone in the crash and suffered several strokes after that. Her quality of life in latter years was very much diminished, but she remained to the last a lovely, graceful person. Then our parents became the top generation.

My good friends in the U.K. just lost a mother and a father within about a week of each other for crying out loud. The parents had also been friends in life. Their children had attended elementary schools together. These were close families. “And now we are nearly the top generation,” I remarked to my friends, and this came as a bit of a shocker. How do I remember my grandparents so clearly, yet we are almost the top generation. Time has supercharged itself.

My old dad is about to turn 95. His older sister recently passed away. Many of his friends have already passed on. But he doesn’t dwell on these things. His last birthday — his 94th — he told me that that was probably enough by the way of birthdays and I replied that I respected that point of view. Later in the year he informed me that he was planning his 95th birthday party and what he was planning to do. Can’t argue with that. He is still so engaged in the world and what is happening out there with all its craziness. He recently just published another book and likely might turn his hand to another. Oh, to be his mirror image and live out our remaining days like that. For my part, I shall be zooming across the world via Dublin to attend his 95th celebrations.

And I try to live my days like that; I really do. But our generation cannot pretend to be anything like the war baby generation, who were sent away from their families at a young age, hardy types who tussled with war, fear, hunger, separation, anxiety, such as my generation has never known. They are such a resilient lot through and through. Though my dad’s little storage pots of leftover food in his fridge have sometimes raised a little concern, his thrifty outlook has always bred the original conservational precedent of using only what you absolutely need, sparing what you can and saving for a rainy day. My mother was the same way. In England, the war rationing (1939-45) went well into the 1950s and the rationing attitude much longer. We are the generation of more and more, like it or not, and I’m really trying not to be that way.

Looking at the possibility of not having to work forever makes you analyze your expense habits and take a good long look at waste and excess in your own household. I have been having those types of dialogues with myself and my husband recently and it’s a rather sobering conversation at best. We are nearly the top generation of the family and here we are, still an entitled lot of more and more and more.

Yet we grow fruits and vegetables at our home that we eat and share with others. Husband bakes his own bread and makes his own dough. We raise chickens for their eggs. We cook from scratch for the most part and eat a predominantly Mediterranean diet. We do our best in that regard not to be wasters and contributors to the landfill. We have animals who eat leftovers and chickens who eat everything; there are never any moldering pots in our fridge because of this!

Considering our position as the generation that is nearly at the top of the ladder, I feel honored that I shall be in London for the funeral of my friend’s father. Living abroad as I do, I miss out on many a wedding and funeral and all parts in between. It is nice when the planets actually align, and I can show up on occasion. I commended my friend on her father’s timing in this regard. We will attend his services and then, without skipping a beat, we will be off on our holiday by the sea, as planned. I love that.

I am also blessed to be able to finally make a visit to Turkey this time around and visit with my sister’s family. It has been five long years since my last trip, and I feel much more ready to go this time than I did the last. It is important that we do these things for as long as we feel able. It is possible — hopefully not — in the future, that I will not want to travel back and forth over the pond the way I do currently. That’s all a bit unthinkable, to be honest, but the reality is that traveling can be a bit rough on the body at the best of times and that will not likely get any easier.

It’s good to practice practical thinking when you are the — ahem — mature generation and pondering retirement and some such. We are trying to get our ranch situated so that it is more manageable, the older we get. Little did we know, when we purchased a ranch-style single story home, how smart that actually was at the time. The years they spin by and here we are — talking about retirement and other older gen things. I still feel as if I’m 30 and then, when I put my glasses on and look in the mirror, I see where the years have gone. I’m OK with that. Because, after all, what is the alternative.

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Soledad columnist Lucy Jensen may be reached at [email protected].


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