Timeless Thoughts: The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

Inspiration can be everywhere.

The other day on the radio, KTRS 550, one of the hosts were talking about things that the current and next generation will miss out on.  We have all seen the email that circulates about how if you were born after 1990, you perhaps do not know what:

…an eight track cassette is…a regular cassette…a mimeograph machine (with the purple ink we all liked to smell)…a photo album…that there used to be an East and a West Germany…and Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray and Adam Sandler used to be on SNL…perhaps you do not know that you had to take camera film to a place to have it “developed” so you could get your pictures–about 3-5 days later…television with only local channels…and little league baseball was played with wooden bats (oh heaven forbid)

Yeah things have, and are changing.  Pretty fast.

I am sure it was not a coincidence that I ran across my Grandmother’s Bible and thought about this.  (I am not saying that the Bible will cease to exist, I pray not, just in this context it may be different.) But I also wonder if families have a “Family Bible” these days.

My grandmother, NaNa, used to place things in her Bible.  Little remembrances.  Cards.  Newspaper articles and clippings.  Funeral notices and ho;y cards.  Things that might seem random at first glance.  This is an act that I believe is a bit of a “lost art”.  Not sure how many continue to do this type of thing.  And the reason I consider it an “art”, is because it can say volumes about the person involved.

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Here is a little example of what I found in her Bible…much is abbreviated because some of the items are lengthy…but you will still get the picture.

  • Copies of birth certificates.  In my grandmother’s case, NaNa, it is interesting because she was born in rural Kentucky.  The birth certificate is marked “delayed” and there are many questions in the family about it…including the accompanied letter on a bank stationary.
  • Random birthday and anniversary cards from my grandfather, PaPa.  Always signed the same way, Love Always, and he did.
  • Funeral holy cards from the funeral home.
  • A handwritten note from someone who states “it has been a long time since we have seen you”…and…”tried to call but no answer”.  Now these would be rectified in today’s world with 1. Skype. 2. Answering machines (if they still are used) and 3. Cell phones. 4. Email.  (Handwritten notes?  Don’t be silly!)
  • An article from 1960 entitled “I’m Fine”.  Among other things, it states, “There is nothing whatever the matter with me. I’m as healthy as can be. I have arthritis in both knees, and when I talk I talk with a wheez. My memory is failing, my head’s in a spin. But I am awfully well for the shape I am in. The moral is, as this tale is told.  We are all growing old. “Tis better to say “I’m fine” with a grin, ‘Cause ’twill merely help the shape we are in”. (In other words, better to be positive than to complain)
  • Another clipping is entitled “Beatitudes For Friends Of The Aged”.  And this can be applied to ALL  AGES. Here is a sample:  “Blessed are they who understand, My faltering step and palsied hand. Blessed are they with a cheery smile, Who stop to chat for a while. Blessed are they who make it known, That I am loved, respected and not alone.  (Hit home to me and I suspect many others, too).  And it continues on…
  • There are engagement notices…these used to be placed free of charge…no longer free.
  • A little card “To Mom”, which is what my grandfather used to call my grandmother…entitled Because I Love You…and it has Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How Do I Love Thee” poem.
  • A Thank You card from Diana and I for the wedding gift we received.
  • Something that resembles dried flowers in a plastic baggie…these could be from any number of occasions…funerals…weddings…anniversaries.
  • A couple of hand-made book marks from her grandchildren.
  • A small note card that says, “Lord make me an instrument of Your peace”.  Along with a hand written note (NaNa’s writing) stating “Please help me to be like the above.  Thank you.”
  • Birth notices
  • Obituary articles…several.
  • A funeral statement from Stock Mortuary from my great-grandmother’s funeral in 1965.  $1,040.00.
  • A newspaper article about “Forgiveness”.  A sample of the article: Be the first to forgive; Do not wait for others; To forgive is the highest most beautiful form of love; In return you will receive untold peace and happiness.
  • And finally, a hand written note which I think deserves to be shared in its entirety:  1. Be thankful for what you have, Don’t complain because things aren’t better.  They could be worse.  2.  Be helpful, but never intrude on others.  3. Suggest do not boss.  4. Don’t be a critic, but take criticism without resentment.  5. Never say an unkind thing – even if it is true.  Be kind to every one.  6. Have a sense of humor and use it when things go wrong; Laughter helps to take the sting out of irritation.

You can tell a lot about a person by the things they save and think are important.

This is another of those things that I fear may be lost by the current generation.  Oh, sure we have many new ways of saving things to different hard drives and folders.  But what I saw were hand written items.  Very personal and things that seemed to be close to my grandmother.  Will these be saved?  Will they even be hand written?  Will anyone care or notice?  If saved, could you find out which file or hard drive?

Yes, some things are lost in time and yet other things do not change.

The concept of how things are saved may be lost.  They may change…some will say they have evolved, progressed.  That is up for debate and discussion….another time and place.

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But the message, hopefully, will be saved and never change.  This is the message I found in NaNa’s Bible:

  • Love Always
  • We miss you
  • Forgive
  • There is a beginning and an end
  • Don’t complain
  • Be positive
  • I’m fine
  • Thank you
  • Aging is not easy
  • Patience is good
  • Help, don’t criticize
  • Laugh


Nana Papa

I know you can’t tell right now, but I am smiling, with a little tear in the corner of my eye.  Because, while my grandmother may have had faults, the above really describes her well.  And it is a timeless lesson for us all.

Those who wrote the Bible did a pretty remarkable job.  It truly is an amazing book that is filled with many incredible lessons and ways to live your life.

And my grandmother added to that.  In a rather remarkable way.

I hope I can too…in the meantime, let us all enjoy life!


Published in: on March 3, 2013 at 8:04 pm  Comments (5)  
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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. A Great Read. In particular, it was great reading the list of twelve succinct phrases at the end. These twelve should be jotted down – by hand by all of us – and saved in all Bibles. In addition, the phrase – Don’t complain because things aren’t better. They could be worse. – is one that can be useful in most situations. Thanks so much for sharing. You have offered lots to consider.


  2. This one made me cry, too, John. My mom sounds a lot like your grandmother and I, too, have inherited the habit of SAVING (as she did), articles, sayings, death notices and those holy cards. My favorites, of course, come from Bible basics: that we are required to forgive and the importance of forgiveness in our lives and also (one I can learn from today) to always share a positive word and viewpoint! Just because something is true, does not necessarily bear repeating.
    I think your all those who went before you would be proud of the man that you have become and are becoming today; i.e., the son, friend, athlete, husband, father and encourager of many!
    Thank you and may the Lord continue to keep and bless you and yours.

    Sally Kay Frankel Demling
    “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8


  3. Yo Dawg … great nuggets of advice to live by. But wait, are you gettng so nostalgic becasuse your having trouble walking up and down the stairs at Bush Stadium, or is it the memory loss everytime you pass through a door way and ask “Why did I come in here?” Just asking dawg – Scott ‘The Great’ Townsend


    • Uh, who? Scott the what? I thought this was Randy Jackson with so many “dawgs” in the pound. By the way, it is Busch Stadium. Hope you guys are doing well.


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