Here is the one thing I miss the most; and both she and my grandfather were characterized by this, total and complete sincerity. They weren’t clever, they didn’t get off on being witty, and they didn’t have an ironic bone in their bodies. They said what they felt and it was always from the heart. They were both products of the depression. Both grew up on subsistence farms and endured hardscrabble living. They moved away and became prototypical suburbanites. I can almost imagine that in the 1950’s Bea Bea vacuumed in heels, a la Donna Reed. They were products of their generation and represented the best of that time. Strong moral values, good work ethic, love of their country and love of their family most of all. They were truly salt of the earth. They were always so impressed with my brother and I, how clever we were, how talented. Were we all that? Objectively maybe, in their eyes all that and more.
My generation, and my Dad’s generation, is different. Everyone is always trying to be clever, to slide in the joke, or the witty bon mot. You have to evaluate everything that is said to see if you’re missing the real meaning. It’s exhausting. The older I get the more it wears me out. How often do you find sincere people anymore? They’re so vulnerable in today’s cutthroat world. When you find them you almost want to put your arm around them and protect them from the ugliness.
I will always be sorry that Emma didn’t come into our lives sooner, so that she might have met her great grandmother. Bea Bea would have loved her so much. And Emma would have gotten to meet one of the classiest Southern ladies she’d have ever known.
Thankfully, these wonderful folks produced my mom, who is much like them despite years of trial by fire with the wiseass family. I’m sure she often wondered how she was so “blessed” with a bunch of smart alecks. But in our defense, I think we provided her entertainment too. We found ourselves pretty entertaining anyway.