Monday, October 6, 2014

Heritage and legacy

One of the nicest things about the wedding and reception, in addition to the marriage, wedding and reception, is that I got to see and talk to relatives and friends that I haven't seen for too long, including my sister and her husband, my brother-in-law and his wife and their son and daughter-in-law and someone I mentored years ago with his family. When I was growing up in Boston, family gatherings were more likely to take place at Irish wakes than at weddings. As I think back, I recall church weddings as the more somber (and sober) occasions.

In case it hasn't been clear, the reception was in Taylor's Falls which provided lots of Autumn colors and an almost old New England (minus the town green) ambiance that I truly appreciated. If you need space for an event in a space with modern amenities and an old-timey flavor, check with the City of Taylors Falls. They're friendly and easy to work with.

Photo by J. Harrington

While I'm waxing nostalgic, I think back to my childhood, about the time of the Korean War. My father went off to protect democracy in part because parents wanted the best for their children and growing up under communism wasn't part of the best. American adults were pursuing the American Dream not only for themselves but for their children. In those days no one that I knew foresaw anything like Anthropogenic Climate Disruption. We were all more concerned with the prospect of nuclear annihilation during the "Cold War." The threats seemed more immediate which perhaps made them seem more real. Later issues, like smog, rivers catching fire, and trees dying from acid rain, were more obvious and compelling than invisible airborne mercury, or pollution from mine drainage or agriculture.

I worry about my daughter and her new husband and, if and when they arrive, grandchildren. I have a strong and growing sense that we're not doing as well by our offspring as my parents and their friends tried to do by us. I guess they didn't need to rely on anything like a 97% scientific consensus when the mess they had made of the water and air was visibly obvious. There seemed to be more of a realization that we're all in this together rather than an attitude of "I haven't yet got enough for me." Opening up these lines of thought and helping to bring them into focus may also have been one of the nicer things about the wedding and reception. I'm grateful that, although I have no granite obelisk, I seem to have done better with and for my lineage and heritage than Mr. Hutchins.

Photo by J. Harrington

Lambert Hutchins

By Edgar Lee Masters 

I have two monuments besides this granite obelisk:
One, the house I built on the hill,
With its spires, bay windows, and roof of slate;
The other, the lake-front in Chicago,
Where the railroad keeps a switching yard,
With whistling engines and crunching wheels,
And smoke and soot thrown over the city,
And the crash of cars along the boulevard, i
A blot like a hog-pen on the harbor
Of a great metropolis, foul as a sty.
I helped to give this heritage
To generations yet unborn, with my vote
In the House of Representatives,
And the lure of the thing was to be at rest
From the never-ending fright of need,
And to give my daughters gentle breeding,
And a sense of security in life.
But, you see, though I had the mansion house
And traveling passes and local distinction,
I could hear the whispers, whispers, whispers,
Wherever I went, and my daughters grew up
With a look as if some one were about to strike them;
And they married madly, helter-skelter,
Just to get out and have a change.
And what was the whole of the business worth?
Why, it wasn't worth a damn! 

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