It was the death of a former President. But what I felt more deeply from listening to and watching the funeral of George HW Bush, was in reality the end of a generation. The greatest generation. The most loyal, dedicated, and patriotic generation in recent history, who ensured through their public service and selfless sacrifice not only our freedom in America, but the freedom of the world. Who believed strongly in faith and optimism, no matter how gloomy reality may seem in the moment. Who taught us how to learn from failures and overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles with a can do spirit and hard work, no matter how how bleak the situation and how steep the personal cost. It was a generation that knew only true life ending threats, like war, bombs, and nuclear devices, not first world, largely imagined ones like global warming and gluten sensitivity.
It was a generation who knew the value of life, because they likely had a brush with death early on, more than once. But they were ntent not only on the seriousness of life, but also, ironically lived each moment with humor and humility, taking on the challenges life and of old age with dignity and grace.
This was the generation that was fully committed to marriage. It wasn’t about the feelings of the moment, but the commitment of a lifetime, the same commitment learned from observing the love Jesus Christ has for the Church the Body of Christ.
Life had meaning and purpose, and every day was lived to the fullest. It was a generation who understood through the instruction of the Great Depression that things are just things, but love is unconditional and free of charge. Money and things may have been handed down by this fiscally conservative generation to the next, but love, loyalty, and friendship were that much more important to impart to ensure the happiness of future generations.
We have much to learn from the greatest generation, but if we are to learn it, we must watch, listen, and glean their wisdom quickly, because few are left to teach us. This point weighs heavily on me personally, because in the past year we have indeed lost some greats- the Reverend Billy Graham, my own grandmother, and now, President George HW Bush.
So, at the end of this year, 2018, as we look to set our goals for 2019 and beyond, let us all remember what is most important. It is not the perfect Christmas gift, the biggest business deal, or the most important new electronic device to secure, but a life and legacy worthy of that greatest generation that each of us are tasked to build. For some, we have been building steadily for a while. For others, it is time to begin in earnest the building project, because we have yet to lay the foundation.
What is that foundation? For that greatest generation, it was a firm foundation of faith in God. Next, it was the importance of family, noted by the time spent dedicated to instructing and raising the next generation. Finally, it was friends and loyalty, generosity of spirit, and sharing with the community around us. Very little time was left in service to self, but true joy is found in the service to others.
May each of us live these life-affirming values every day that is left of this year, next year, and into the next decade. To know and love those around us in intimate, not superficial ways, through relevant conversations one-on-one, not through the cold devices glued to our lifeless fingers. This is the key to living, truly living, life. May we learn the lessons the greatest generation has taught us and succeed in living a meaningful, not popular, life worth living and sharing with those around us. Then we will wake up each day thankful in recognition that we really are living a wonderful life, no matter our circumstances.
Dr. Jill Murphy
MotionWorks Physical Therapy