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Generational Convenience

While visiting my father, I came to a new appreciation of all those small conveniences that we take for granted in our daily lives.

In my own home I can chop vegetables in a flash by “veg-o-matic” for the eco-conscious or food processor for those who don’t mind using a few watts in the course of making a meal.

I can go to my own kitchen sink and get boiling water at the touch of a button rather than use the electic range and a teakettle. “In-sinker-ators” are wonderful inventions.

I don’t have to cringe at the very sound of the words deer, elk, turkey, bass. World War II is a historical reference, rather than battles being fought at life-like volume in my living room. I can use the remote control at home to remove the unwanted sound and images.

In my own house I’m not constantly told to make sure the toilet has stopped running before leaving the bathroom. I can use the bathroom sink without going on an expedition to find it first.

I don’t have to go on a search and relocate mission, either, each time I move through my house only to find the return trip as much of a challenge. I can even eat a meal at a table if I chose to. Oh, and I can make a cup of coffee without standing at the range to use a flat surface.

You see, my father, like many men in their latter years, has a problem letting go of things. It comes from being of that depression-era generation. The convenience of living space is traded for the security and comfort of having one’s personal possessions and correspondence close to hand, as well as a desire to have one’s entire financial and business history available immediately, if needed.

Please don’t mistake this monologue for a condemnation. On the contrary, I’m amazed at the memory acumen displayed during a request for data retrieval. I know many of the mundane  reasons for my father’s behavior and some of the psychological ones I can guess without difficulty.

What this episode has done for me was not a lessening of love/respect for my father, but a renewal of my own sense of what’s necessary in my life in order to feel whole, viable, productive, and useful. I can do without gadgets that claim convenience, if I want. I can keep accurate and brief personal and financial records that fill only one small file cabinet. I need few real possessions to live a decent life. If worse comes to worst, I can even do without a computer, though I don’t want to. Been there too often during the last six months.

I have always known my father to be very bright and knowledgeable about too many subjects to count. I mean, the man used to do integral calculus in his head. That kind of knowledge, too, is a convenience I don’t wish to lose, though that event will inevitably occur. I can get a detailed first-hand account of many activities for use in my writing, especially with a historical emphasis from Dad. What more could I want as a writer than to have my very own talking, personal experiential encyclopedia? That is a resource that will be sorely missed when the time comes.

The convenience of learning from parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, or even older neighbors far outweighs any inconvenience of having to move a pile of newspapers in order to sit down and relax. We, who live by words, ideas, images and dreams, need reminders occasionally as to where important information resides for a critical understanding of characters, plots and backstory.

If we spent more time mining our families and their cogent memories, the flavor and texture of our writing would mature more quickly, making a much tastier meal for the reader. At least, that’s my hope for my own journey in the business.

And my father? He’s much better, thank you, though he still has trouble getting around easily. Hopefully, sufficient time will bring increased  mobility to his days and additional solace to his heart.

I encourage everyone to try tapping into this most valuable of resources before it’s too late. You might just discover areas of interest that you didn’t know existed before or tales of intrigue and adventure that far surpass anything in the movies. Our families have histories with stories attached that tell of things that can never be again. Here’s hoping you get to dive into an exciting new history of your own.


Categories: Life, Writing and Poetry
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