Women Of The Greatest Generation

Dear Young Professional,

Men if you think, by the title of this blog, that it’s meant for women you will miss out, read on…

Last weekend I watched with many in the nation the funeral service for First Lady Barbara Bush. Her years in the white house predated your birth, and you probably are in the stage of your life as many of her grandchildren.

What dawned on me, oddly I admit, is that I had two women from this generation who left their imprint on my life, also passed before their husbands. My mother Kathryn and Mrs. B who I lovingly called Mom #2 all my life. These women, like Mrs. Bush I would argue did not die, they wore out. They lived lives that gave 100%++ to their spouses, families, faith and communities.

This was an era when large families were common, 5, 6, 8 and more kids born specially to farming families. So, motherhood and homemaking were a necessary full time need, not just a limitation (which is was) as women only joined the workforce in force when the war effort needed them.

Women from this generation not only had limitations in terms of choice of career, but also access and expectations about higher education.

At Mrs. Bush’s service, stories were told of her love and devotion to her husband, President George H.W. Bush. Much talk about a true love affair and teasing when noted that George was the only man she had ever kissed.

I was raised in a home where my parents, like the Bushes, were truly in love. I admit the last of 6 kids I saw the evidence of their love and devotion more than my siblings. Fair or unfair there just was more time for me.

My mother passed in 2012, however she was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer 20 years earlier. While the doctors said she had a 9 to 18-month life expectancy, she defied the odds. Why? I (as many of my siblings) would argue she had a purpose. Who would care for the love of her life?

I remember vividly one morning when I was at my parents’ home in Phoenix, waiting for my mother to have surgery to remove the tumor from her colon. It was 3 AM and my dad had started the coffee. I was sleeping on the couch, so I lay and listen to him go through his morning routine as if 3AM is a normal hour to start your day.

I decided when the coffee pot started to gurgle and cough as it finished brewing to get up. My dad was at the table reading the morning newspaper. As I set a cup of coffee down on the table, with the paper lifted hiding his face he says to me, “I don’t think I will live long after mother passes” (he always called  my mom “mother”) the reality of the situation was obvious. I asked him why and he said, “Because people can die from a broken heart can’t they Kristin?”. I couldn’t help but silently agree.

That day, that week, I would be witness to what’s like to confront the end of life. It shaped my thinking to ask myself when I am faced with the time of my passing, will I be happy, proud of the life I lived? That would be answered by the choices I made.

All generations have shared experiences that shape them. For this generation it was both the War and a lifestyle that largely lacked technology. People also didn’t move far from the home base, families able to walk or ride a bike to Sunday Supper at the grandparents’ home.

What lessons can your generation of “technology passionate” and “mobile living” learn from the passing of this generation’s patriarchs? There is certain structure to their lives that provided a solid foundation to build on.

  • Pick your partner carefully:
    • The Bush family like my family didn’t have all the modern conveniences to find a soulmate. They had chance meetings at a soda fountain or a dance hall, not some dating app or website. No matter how you meet a potential mate, tune into old fashion human nature to know if it’s a fit: men do you want to follow that women, and women do you adore and are proud of that man? Sounds corny but try it it’s true.
    • Hint: If you can truly be your authentic self, like it’s not a lot of effort to be with this person but it’s widely enjoyable – hang on to that one.
    • Be sure in who you are before you settle in and settle down. Length of dating is not a success metric for long lasting love.
  • Live to Love Daily:
    • Love yourself
    • Love your life and choices
    • Love your mate (it’s about doing the consistent little kind things for one another)
    • Love your challenges – they make you unique
  • Live in Faith:
    • By your definition, it may be formal religion, a sense of spirituality from nature or other
    • Know that whatever your basis for faith, “Faith is daring the soul to go beyond what the eyes can see”.
    • Meet a need – even if no one sees you doing it

Everyday I work to be true to my brand as a colleague, sister, aunt, wife so others know  what they can expect from me. I use my defined purpose (not what others want it to be) as my north star to guide my actions. For me this is the formula for a happy life.

I hope my reflections spur thinking on your part as to your brand and purpose.

Fondly,
Aunt Kris

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