My Grandma Rene is 94 years old. She has lived through The Depression, World War II, six sons (no daughters), lost two husbands and still is going strong. She is starting to show some effects of her age, but she still lives by herself, plays cards, and sometimes dances.
We have been probing her for more stories of her growing up and she tells what she remembers. She will tell you that was so long ago that she has forgotten some things. I am 38 and I have forgotten some things too!
When we have asked her how they got through the tough times, one of the phrases that stick out in my mind the most is "We just did".
What does that phrase mean? It means that things had to be done and you had to do them. Farm chores had to be done because that was food, income, and nobody else was going to do them. She worked as a hired girl in high school and afterward because she needed a place to live while going to school in town and the extra money was needed. They used flour sacks to make clothes. They canned their food. They did without because the money needed to be spent on necessities.
The Depression was a little easier for them to bear because they had a farm in Iowa, but her father died when she was 17. That meant she had to start working while still in school. She did graduate high school in 1938. She also did what she could to help out at home.
"We just did" meant that they did what they had to survive and thrive. If they had to earn more money, they did. If they had to do more chores, they did. When she married my grandfather during WWII, she followed him around from base to base. She helped other base families move and take care of their children. The need was there and they just did. Everyone helped everyone else.
That same theme continued throughout her life and that has made a huge impact on me. She overcame some difficult circumstances that many people could not handle. When we ask her how she did it, she will credit family, neighbors, friends, and that attitude. "We just did" because she had other things that she had to focus on and other people who needed her attention. She didn't dwell on how bad things were because she had other things to think about. Life still went on and had to be lived.
We need that same attitude.
Too many of us find it too easy to play the victim, be lazy, feel entitled, and expect everyone else to take care of things for us. We don't have the determination, willpower, and duty to just get done what needs to be done. I am guilty of this too. I could get a whole lot more done in a day than what I do, but I don't because of various excuses.
We also need to pass this onto the next generations. Too many kids think that life will be handed to them on a silver-lined platter and they will never have to really work for it. Too many parents forget to teach kids to work and forget to raise them to be responsible adults. Some kids will never understand the phrase "We just did" until too late when life throws them a crippling curveball.
We can learn a lot from our older generations in terms of not just skills, but in terms of attitudes.
Thanks for reading,