Remember What Your Grandparents Never Forgot

My grandmother (far right) some time around 1945. Looking at old photos, I feel like you can always see the echo of hardship and struggle that shaped this generation’s life.

I grew up a thousand miles away from my paternal grandparents. We visited them maybe once every-other year? I don’t exactly remember. I know it wasn’t too often. Infrequent enough that when I asked my mom to find a picture of me with my grandparents, not one could be found :-(.  By the time I was born, my grandparents were already considerably older than those of my friends. My father hadn’t been born until my grandma was 42, and then I wasn’t born until my father was 30. So, you can do the math from there.

The Great Depression and Word War II were not just memories pieced together through the eyes of their childhood. These were life events thrust upon them at the verge of adulthood as they tried to navigate marriage and starting a family when life was extraordinarily uncertain. This impacted them for the rest of their lives. They never forgot how that uncertainty felt. And they knew that they never wanted (or wanted their children) to experience it again.

I have this vivid memory of visiting my grandparents sometime in the winter of probably the early 2000s. We all sat down for dinner and immediately after saying Grace, grandpa announced: “Alright! You’ve all seen what’s on your plate! No reason to waste the electricity!” and proceeded to shut the lights off. Mind you, 6pm in Illinois in the dead of winter means it’s as dark as midnight. If there was a penny to be saved, they sure saved it. Even if it meant eating dinner in the dark. Ha!

Like most of their generation, my grandparents have since passed. Their memories leaving us with smiles and odd “quirky” stories to tell about how cheap (we probably should say efficient!) they were. My grandparents never forgot what it felt like to be SO POOR that they wouldn’t spend money even when they were rich. They never counted on tomorrow being as good as today. I think they HOPED it would be. But they knew it wasn’t guaranteed. And so they lived life in a way that prepared for hard times.

Grandma always had her pantry stocked.

They didn’t care about faster, newer, better.  

Grandpa would fix things 6,000 times if it meant not buying a new one.

My grandparents never lost that feeling. That bottom-pit-of-their-stomach-are-we-going-to-make-it feeling. That feeling I think many of us experienced at the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic. That *GASP* of breath. That fleeting panic. Not because you couldn’t find toilet paper, but because you realized that if something like toilet paper (which must be manufactured by the billions of rolls each year) can have its supply chain messed up so quickly, more important things can too.  Like food.  Or access to clean water.  Or medicine.  That toilet paper was really just an analogy for all the other life-sustaining items that we buy everyday. That feeling that maybe we’ve been living too comfortably on a supply-demand chain system that’s as fragile as a house of cards.

This post isn’t about condoning panicking. I think God calls us to live a life without fear! But I think we can also learn a lesson from 2020 (and from our grandparents) and live today in a way that invests in an uncertain tomorrow. Keep a well stocked pantry. Learn skills that help you make the most of what you have: canning, sewing, gardening, animal husbandry, household repairs basics, foraging, etc.

We really do live during an unprecedented time. But not because of any pandemic or economic instability. Quite the opposite. Unprecedented by the stability! It has made us so comfortable that we hadn’t realized how unprepared we were to face an uncertain future. This should not be!

Let us all take a lesson from our grandparents, and remember what it felt like to feel out-of-control of the circumstances. Let us live our lives in such a way that we can be more prepared for whatever uncertainty comes our way.

Here at Teal House Farm, we are working on renewing efforts toward waste-free living and more true sustainability. That means seed saving, compost pile turning, egg hatching, wood pile stacking, plastic eliminating goodness. And of course, lots of canning!

We will be bringing you lots of new content here and on YouTube of great ways to improve your home’s sustainability and stability. I know 2020 really lit a fire under us to build more security in an uncertain world. While we can never know what the future will bring, we can protect, utilize, and invest all the resources God has given us.

Let’s take a lesson from our grandparents. Never forget!