My connection to the best generation

Published 10:11 pm Friday, May 28, 2010

This Sunday, my grandmother, Louise Leet, celebrates another birthday. She will be 90 years old.

While most of us aren’t very keen about talking about how old we are, I believe there are some numbers that you almost have to be proud of, like a winning record or something. That’s the game of life, I guess: the high scorer gets more respect, and deservedly so.

If we can believe what the genetics experts say, this bodes well for me, personally, as long as I can stay healthy. I’m not as healthy as my grandmother is, nor am I likely to be. It’s just another big difference between my generation and hers.

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My grandmother grew up on a farm near Fayetteville, Tenn., so she ate healthy, whether she knew it or not. I don’t know if there was a Food and Drug Administration back then telling us about the daily recommended amount of Vitamin A or fiber.

She was 9 when the Great Depression struck our nation, and spent the next several years understanding the value of a dollar. The youngest of eight daughters and the third-youngest of 12 children, she also understood about sharing, whether it came to clothes, chores or her parents’ affections.

When she was 21, she met and married my grandfather, David B. Leet.

The honeymoon was a brief one, as he had to ship out to serve in World War II. While my grandfather was overseas, my grandmother lived with her mother-in-law, and they took care of my mother, who was born while Popop was overseas.

That generation has been highly praised by Tom Brokaw in books and on TV — again, rightfully so. The generation that lived and endured through the worst economic times of our history, fought through one of the most massive wars of this planet’s history, then helped to develop one of the greatest nations ever had to be some kind of people.

It is a generation of people made of steel, forged through hardship and determination and strengthened on the need to survive and a love for life.

She raised two children, ran a business downtown and has pretty much been a second mother to me and my brother and sister after her daughter — my mother — passed away in 1990. She took part in almost every social organization Demopolis had to offer and has baked enough cookies, pies and treats to have given Traeger’s Bakery a run for its money.

There is almost no way that my generation — or any other — can match the toughness and character of that generation, but it is something to strive for, something to respect and something to admire.

Happy birthday!

David B. Snow is the managing editor of The Demopolis Times.