Several years ago our son Jeremy asked Peter and me to write about our lives up to the time he was born. So write we did. We enjoyed trying to capture the essence of our growing up and the patterns of behavior we developed that made us who we are today, for better or for worse.
We were surprised that each of our hastily written autobiographies of "the early years” ended up to be seventeen single-spaced pages long, and astonished to learn things about each other from reading about our lives before we met.
Then last spring, Jeremy asked us to talk about where we are in our lives on videotape. The plan was that the tapes would be embargoed with no one having watched them until it was played for our grandchildren in 20 years. Jeremy set up the camera on the porch, left me, saying he would be back in 15 minutes and instructed me to talk. By the time he came back, I was reduced to tears, saying how much I loved everyone to the video camera. Then it was Peter’s turn, and I have no idea what he said, but I do know that he had more trouble filling the 15 minutes than I did, typical silent-male type that he is.
I often wish I could talk to my parents these days. I want to know what they were thinking at my age. How did they feel about turning 70? I want to know more about my father’s difficult childhood. I want to know if my mother ever wished that she had had a career other than as a mom. I wonder if she had that empty feeling in the pit of her stomach that I always have when a child leaves after a visit home.
Through our writing about our early lives and our recording about where we are now, our children will have answers to some of the questions I wish I could ask my parents. And maybe, just maybe, our grandkids will tell their own children what life was like for their grandparents at the turn of the 21st century.