An old song, “I’m My Own Grandpa,” made youngsters like me laugh back in the early 1950s when grandpa seemed ancient though mine was just about 52, 16 years younger than I am now. Listening to that ditty, I never thought about getting older. Or, for that matter, talking and acting like my grandfather.
Or grandmother. Or teachers. Or early bosses who seemed long on the horse. Being young means that you never get old, or at least it’s not what you think about, thank goodness. Youth may indeed be wasted on the young since when we are older, we wish we could go back and better live that time, make wiser choices, tell our family, friends and other loved ones how we really felt about them. Regret is a heavy blanket to carry.
In the metamorphosis that generations make as time passes, grandpa and the other oldies come with you. For example, I have long found myself saying things my gramps uttered, or thinking like a long-gone teacher who I might have characterized as an old fogey back in the day. If there is a heaven, these folks surely must have smiles on their faces, shaking their heads as they utter, “We told you so.” Of course, standing right behind them are their own elders, adding “What goes around comes around.”
I guess this natural progression of thought explains why once-liberal youth, so rebellious, become a tad conservative, or at least less laid-back. The responsibilities of life surely weigh more as you age, and the looking back that you do can sober your views.
It’s a good and fine thing, though, that other youth, liberal and rebellious, take your place, because it is a certainty that we adults don’t have all the answers, and, in fact, what we offer is sometimes dead wrong. Wars, greed, inequality, pestilence are not caused by the young.
If the human race is said to mature, if we are on the whole less barbarian, if material goods mean less drudgery, if humanity has become more humane in 2011, then we are different versions, improved models, than some of our old grandpas.Yet, on balance, many things my grandfather said and did were of better example than I have offered, so there is learning in both directions as I become even more “my own grandpa.”