Where am I?
That was the question I woke up with this morning. Of course, it covers a range of possibilities. The first was opening my eyes at first light. The room looked familiar and strange at the same time. A few blinks and the reality focused: I was in the guest room of my daughter’s home. And why? She will receive an award for community service, and I will witness yet another of her achievements.
A flight of under three hours may seem the usual until you overhear a cellphone conversation. A couple settled down to phone their son. “Had a nice visit. First time ever flying, and gone well. Hoping return would go as well. Yes, they had figured out the wheelchair service. See you again soon.”
These travellers were senior citizens. And yet they had never flown on an airplane. I wondered how tech-savy they are. Does having a cellphone imply having a computer? An iPad? Blog or twitter account? We have our feet planted in the past and future by living in houses years old, modern stainless steel kitchen appliances, drive cars that talk back to us.
And yet there are still people who have not or will not fly. Children who may never ride a horse, milk a cow or ride a train. Our grandchildren ask what it was like in the olden days.
My aunt was 82 in 1982. I remember asking how she had handled the changes from walking, horse and buggy to air and highspeed rail. How she had stayed optimistic after wars and little peace. I had bought her a tape recorder to tell her stories. For her youth, she said it was too painful to revisit. She lived in the present. She braved surgery to correct surgery that had blinded her. She taught herself to write again. She was introduced to color television’s beauty and read the New York Times again.
The tape recorder was never turned on.
Where does all that knowledge go if not passed on? Piecing toether from online clues, she was
..born in Meridian, MS to former slaves
..her father was in the USCT army at Vicksburg
..he was a railway mail carrier and may have died in a train wreck
..she lived a few years in a boarding school in VA where her mother worked as a domestic
..she lived with a brother and finished high school in Chicago
..she was among the few Black Yeomanettes working for the Navy in DC during WW I
which gave her veteran benefits for life
..she was a life-time member of the NAACP and women’s groups
..she put her age up and race aside to work for the State of NY for 35 years
..she had no children but helped educate her nieces, nephews and grands.
..she travelled widely and enjoyed many interests.
So where am I? also means, where am I in a long line of achievers? And where are we all?