Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Living History

My parents are celebrating their 70th birthdays this November. They have been alive for almost three quarters of a century, born during a time when the world was at war and in total chaos; they have seen and experienced many changes to their way of life.
They will endure many a remark about their advancing age good-naturedly and  I am sure they have the odd retort ready to reply when the time is right.
I paused here for a moment to answer the request of a two year old and while I was attending to her needs, I thought "Seventy! Wow!” These two remarkable individuals have a living history, a history that is both unique to each individually and a common history. These two people can relate a lesson, a memory or a time in history of which they themselves were a part. They could regale their grandchildren with stories of their youth, back before there was even television never mind “Smart phones” and IBM. I think my Lollipop would be horrified at the thought considering how attached she is to my iPod.
I remember sitting and listening to my Oupa talking about his experiences during the Second World War or to my Marnie recall her childhood shenanigans with a smile. It was fascinating and to my young mind ancient history, almost as ancient as the pyramids. How precious those moments were, those memories, more so now that they are gone. 

My children will never get to sit at their granddad’s feet and listen to him reminisce while puffing on his pipe. We live to far away now for one and my dad does not smoke a pipe. My girl’s will never get to sit next to my mum and talk about random things and laugh with her when she recalls the nonsense of her youth. In a way, I feel bad about taking that option away from my children and my parents; I did secretly hope my children would have many of the same experiences growing up as I did. However, that is not possible is it? My children are not me, their grandparents did not have the same experiences mine did we live in different countries in a different age. Their experiences, their memories will be vastly different from mine. They are finding a way, my parents and my children, with the help of technology, aeroplanes and even snail mail. In their own way, without any help from me these four individuals are creating their own moments, their own memories. 

When I look back at my life, at my childhood, I suddenly realise just how remarkable my parents are. Our friends talk about their childhood and the way they were raised and I realise how incredibly lucky my brother’s and I were. My parents were strict, had certain expectations and standards and we were expected to meet them all. They drew on their experiences and mistakes and those of their parents and tried to show us how not to make the same mistakes. But, they embraced the wisdom gained through their lives and allowed us to make our own mistakes and learn from them. Yet, they never held their council, nor berated us with “I told you so.” I know I would not cope with my children if I did not have my mother’s knowledge gained over the past forty-six years she has spent raising her own children. I know there are very few decisions I would make without first seeking out my father’s advice or counsel. I know that in times of hardship or happiness it is to these two remarkable people that I turn first. Why wouldn’t I? Between them, they have accumulated one hundred and forty years of wisdom I would be a fool not to take advantage of it. 

It is with awe and pride that I celebrate the past seventy years of these two remarkable people. I will forever be grateful that they are my parents. It is with great sadness that the distance between us makes it impossible for me to be with them on their birthdays. I will be forever grateful that it was their love, support and wisdom that gave me the strength to make the decision to move to World’s end. For the rest of my life I will honour these two remarkable people. I will honour their legacy, their love, their lives, the lessons; I will honour them as individuals and as my parents.  

While the cake melts under the heat of seventy candles, and age carves the lines of time on their faces, let us all raise our glasses to two remarkable people as they begin a new journey into their Wisdom Years. 

And so


Here’s to the Wisdom years

To the infancy that was

The adolescence all but forgotten

Here’s to the memory of youth


Here’s to the Wisdom years

To the lessons masquerading as mistakes

The memories all but overflowing

Here’s to the recollection of love


Here’s to the Wisdom years

To the legacy that is

The descendants of the future

Here’s to the fellowship of life


Here’s to You

To the life you have lead

The memories you treasure

Here’s to living and how you live it


Here’s to the wisdom of your years!

Samantha Braum


Happy seventieth birthdays Mum and Dad! Love light and happiness! I love you!