Wednesday, September 14, 2016

"Ma" Goddard and the Greatest Generation

     We should all be as lucky as Helen Goddard.  Her obituary notes that she died at 96 while vacationing in Mexico.  I could handle leaving this world while sipping on tequila slammers in some ocean front cantina, dining on another bowl of ceviche (heavy on the jalapeno)  I have no evidence that she was enjoying tequila or ceviche....those are my own vices thrown into the story.  I do know, though, that whatever she was doing there in Mexico someone near her was smiling.  You had to smile when in her company.  An individual who loves life that much rubs off on those around them.  An individual who loves everything and everyone around her more than she loves herself is a gift from God.

     I saw her at church and in the classroom.  That's one of the perks of growing up in the "touch of country in the city" that Stone Mountain, Georgia was at the time.  Those of us raised there were, truly,  raised by a village.  There was always someone to feed you or give you a ride or ask how your family was doing.  Helen Goddard was the epitome of the guardians that surrounded us.  When at church she never asked if I'd done my homework.  When at school she never asked if I'd gone to youth choir practice.  She was a rare soul that cared about US in whichever venue we were lucky enough to be near her.  She was the first person (outside of my family) that I ever discussed plans I wished to pursue in adulthood.   I remember the room, the afternoon, the smile on her face and the chalk dust on her hands when she grabbed my face and said " can do whatever you want.  You being you is important to everyone that knows you.  Don't live life in terms of income.  Just live life...."   I think she practiced what she preached, given that she died in Mexico after nearly a hundred years on this planet.  She knew how to live life. 

     It's no wonder that my generation spends so much money on therapy, self-help books, medication and tequila slammers.  Just look at the people against which we had to measure ourselves.  A work friend - in his 60's - once told me "Thank Christ your generation didn't have to fight World War II - we'd all be speaking German."  I couldn't disagree with him.  I've not accomplished any of the things I discussed with "Ma" Goddard that afternoon.....but I have lived life.  I hope she'd be proud....