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I feel as though people in my generation don’t take the time to learn about the past before our time and the generations that came before us, I am glad I gave myself a chance to do that with my Nana. On November 14th of this year I spent a night with my Nana, Mary Lou Austin, at her house and when we woke up in the morning I interviewed her for the Storycorps’ Thanksgiving Listen. She told me stories of her past and about her life living in New York, as well as giving me kind words that I can hold onto forever.
After interviewing my Nana my perspective on the way she views the world changed because she finds the light in every situation and only holds on the to the joyful moments of her memories.
Of all the questions I asked my Nana many stood out, in the beginning I asked her of the advice she would give her younger self.
Her response began the perfect theme of her blissful mentality integrated into every answer that followed. My Nana responded saying, “Live a happy life, a good life. Have good friends around you that are also happy and enjoy things.” Though the words may be scattered and it takes a little bit of further analyzing, she stated it with such confidence and followed the quote with talking about how she only remembers having positive, happy people in her life as a teenager. This shows just how bright her view on her past is by the abundance of positivity in every adjective she uses.
She does not only see the delightfulness of her past, but finds it in situations where it may be difficult. She told me of her happiest memory after becoming a mom and I was surprised by what she came up with. “The day you were born,” she said and then carried on to talk about how I was her first and only granddaughter; she completed her thought by saying “The sad part was your grandfather wasn’t there to see it,” (he had passed away a few months before I was born) I was shocked that she strayed from her cheerful path, but put at ease when she completed her sentence with a smile on her face, “but I told him all about it, he was like, “you take care of her,” I said I would.”
This was probably one of her most elaborate responses and stood out to me in a way that none of the others did because she was so kindly vulnerable. She showed a different part of herself, a part that thought of a happy memory, spoke of a dull moment, and then lifted the spirits back up again. This, to me is the greatest response she could have given that represents exactly what someone who finds the light in every memory is. She not only looks to her past and finds joy, but she knows of the good that happens today, in the present. A stigma with elders that seems to come from cartoons and television is that of a hatred toward the modern gadgets and ‘delinquent kids’ in my generation.
It is overlooked sometimes that there are many elders, especially grandparents like Nana, that respect our generation. Her opinion on my generation is nothing less than understanding and accepting, she told me so warmly, “I think you’re lucky, I think you have a lot a of freedom that we didn’t have…it’s a new world.” It wasn’t a response I was expecting but a response that gave me a new perspective. She carried on to say, “I really do think you have a great generation.” It was the best answer I would have never known I needed, she replied with glee in her tone and didn’t hesitate once she began to speak. My Nana sees light in my generation, she sees that we are more than stereotypes and modern gadgets, she sees the good that she wants to see in the world.
My Nana has introduced a new side of her to me, she represents so much glee and enjoyment in life and so calmly finds the good in every moment she is apart of. I learned so much from interviewing my Nana and I came to know so much more, not just about her but about life. She gave me insight into the mentality of someone with her wisdom, she has lived her whole life going through the twists and turns that life throws at you and she has still come out positive and humorous. She knows of who she was in the past and looks at the pure glee of herself as a teenage girl; but she is still able to experience these moments now, as a grandmother and a mom, with even more blessing. She thinks fondly of who I am and who I will become and I know couldn’t ask for a kinder, more wondrous Nana.
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