Year’s end. We don’t disclose how many Reveres there are or where they are (we don’t even correct the rife speculation and usually incorrect assumptions in the Comments), but one thing we/I will reveal: there’s only one Revere at a time. So it falls to this one to look back on the past year, which for me, personally, was a year of milestones. A new grandson came into our lives. He is beautiful and 7 months old. It helps make up for the one that didn’t quite make it. On the other side of the ledger, my mother died this year. It was the day before Thanksgiving. She, too, was a beautiful person, 103 years old when her body finally wore out. She taught me to always try to do the right thing and always try to put myself “in the other guy’s shoes.” Advice that’s stood me in good stead, even if I’ve not always succeeded at either. If little William lives as long as his Great Grandmother he’ll still be going strong well into the 22nd century. So along with the other reflections prompted by the end of one year and the start of the next, I’ve been thinking about my mother and my new grandson.
In the world of western Wisconsin where my mother was born there was no expectation she would ever be able to vote. Indeed, she was 16 before that even became legally possible. At her birth, TR was at the end of his Presidential term. The idea a woman might run for President was so preposterous no one even mentioned it. Blacks were disenfranchised throughout much of the land. Lynchings were not uncommon. Now the main competitor of a woman to become the presidential nominee of one of the two major parties is Black. When my mother was born the Wright Brothers had flown only a year earlier. Mrs. R. and I flew to her funeral on what is now a form of mass transit. Few homes had electricity or much indoor light then. Now I’m writing this on a laptop running on electricity but not plugged into anything. My mother was 13 years old when the Spanish influenza came. She never spoke of it to me. Now I write about a new visitation of influenza daily. A look at the geographic locations of my last 100 readers shows them on every continent. In her day not even the biggest newspaper had that kind of reach.
Today’s world would have been, literally, inconceivable to the world into which she was born.
And little William, now having his first Christmas? What kind of world will he live in if he reaches her age? If he does, will he be a healthy 103 or demented and infirm? Will people still be killing each other over — what? Whose God is the One True God? Or battling over scarce resources? Or sweating or shivering in a world whose climate has gone berserk? Or will it be a world better than the one we live in now, just as ours is better than the one my mother was born into?
Of course no one knows. But we can hope for the best and do our best to make it happen. Maybe by trying to do the right thing and putting ourselves in the other guy’s shoes. Still good advice.
So tonight I’ll raise a glass to my mother and to little William — and to you.
Happy New Year.
——————– From all of the Reveres. New Year’s Eve, 2007