Monday, March 12, 2012

Wise Words from Eleanor and Eugene Becker: Introduction

I have a small keepsake book. It was something Amy treasured. The book is designed to hold 4x6 prints, but my mother-in-law, quite the scrap-booker, created a collection of “wise words” from her parents, Amy’s grandparents, and presented it to us some years ago.

1. Nothing is ever simple
2. Always take a little lunch along
3. You have time for what you make time
4. Don’t look back
5. Work on a firm surface
6. Keep your hand in your lap and elbows off the table
7. If you want to save money, stay home
8. It will feel so good when it quits hurting
9. Finish one thing before getting started on another
10. Teamwork and shared values make a good marriage

I’m sorry I never got to meet Amy’s grandparents whom she so adored. They’d retired to coastal Alabama and both died the year Amy and I met. We just didn’t get down there in time. But I feel I have gotten to know them some, over the years, through stories from Amy and now her brother and my mother-in-law.


Eugene was born in 1906 and Eleanor in 1911. They each brought their understanding of determination and stoicism to their marriage. Eugene was surely influenced from his German and English forebears, and Eleanor from her Scottish and Swedish ancestry. They rose to adulthood during the Great Depression then started a family while World War II raged. Their heritage and these two great events of the last century greatly shaped their world view. Though I wince when we look back through rose-tinted glasses to the “good-ol’-days,” ignoring the profound social inequalities and bigotry so deeply woven into our fabric, there is wisdom from those who lived through that era that we ought not forget.

Over the coming weeks I’ll explore each of the 10 sets of “wise words” from Amy’s grandparents, the great-grandparents of my sons. Who knows, maybe I’ll learn something along the way.

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