The Lost Generation Chapter 1
Updated: Mar 2, 2020
What have roots got to do with it
I rounded the corner; as usual, the sunrise was spectacular this morning. A majestic background accented several stories of the hospital. The windows were casting the colors like a mirror honoring the large cross on the new addition. I was feeling pleased my second home was of good use for yet another person in need. The apartment guest list now included my dads' name. If he had to go through cancer treatments five days a week, at least, mom and dad had a comfortable place to stay. As the radiation treatments continued, his sadness had increased. I could see it in his eyes as he became less verbal. How can I help the man who has always helped me? At the entryway, I switched hats from daughter mode to registered nurse. The usual prayer rang through my mind. Please give me the strength and knowledge to support my patients in every way I can, keep the patients and staff safe from harm today. It was the last of my three twelve hours shifts in a row in the operating room. I would drive three hours home this evening, leaving mom and dad at the apartment.
I awoke the next morning to the familiar surroundings of home. The pressures of my career and the city melted into the peaceful surroundings of the small town I loved and the family I missed while away. The dogs were happy; life was good. I smiled at the thought that dad would be having coffee with Tony, the lovely lady who managed the apartment complex. She always had coffee brewing in the commons area and looked forward to dad's visits. I made coffee and sat in my office looking through bills to pay when I noted the suitcase in the corner. It was a suitcase filled with family history dad had left me months earlier. It was a suitcase filled with information that would take me on a journey lasting for years.
Mom was the oldest of ten children. When dad lost his father at age seventeen, he moved from Kansas to Colorado, where he worked for the railroad. I always knew there were very few relatives on Dad's side; there was one great uncle with his family name whom we used to visit in Abilene, Kansas. Moms' large family became who we knew as family. I spent so much of my life without showing much interest in my dad's childhood and family. What happened? Where were they? I had heard bits and pieces, but now I wanted the whole picture. I opened the suitcase and began researching the names and places it held. I had found the answer to how to help dad. We could talk about his life history and the photos in the suitcase. I printed out several clippings from the internet I found. Some of them of which we had no clue whether they were relatives but were of great humor at the thought. We laughed together at the idea. Dad looked forward to my return to the apartment with new findings. I like to think it provided the distraction he needed at the time.
Dad lived to become cancer-free. He won the battle. A short time later, he was involved in a car wreck that took his life. He battled for two weeks in the hospital where I worked. A side note to fellow nurses who have endured the helpless feeling of being unable to help those who we love the most; it is a hell few would understand. It is real. If you need assistance processing through it, find someone. You are not weak. You are human.
Dad had made a request several times during the last few years of his life. He had given a suitcase with family history to each of my two brothers also, but there was still a box that housed his most valued possessions. I promised him that I would find it and preserve its contents after his death.
It would take fifteen years before I found "the box."
Now that mom is also gone, as we go through her belongings, what do we find? The box. There are so many emotions that occur when we lose our parents — seeing this treasure pushed me over the edge of raw feelings and memories. The box possessed the rest of my dad's family history. It maintained a generation nearly lost. As I have gone through it, I see the nature of ages past still played out. I also see it being played out in me as well as in America today. In the early 2000s, dad would ask me, "why is everyone so angry these days." " I can't even stand in line at the grocery store without noticing people are increasingly mad." I never came up with an answer for him. It was something I could not answer myself. The reality was I did not know either. I often wonder what he would be saying if he could see people today.
It seems that it is easy for people to place each other inside some box of preconceived titles and notions. It is stereotyping presenting battles to degrade one another. It also provides a haven for victimization. I have noticed the old fight or flight theory has transcended. Now be the victim has become popular. I feel it explains much of the anger. Victimization and accomplishments generally do not go hand in hand. One can certainly never reach their full potential while being allowed to be victimized.
While we are putting others in a box, I found a large part of who I am inside of one. One more time, I could hear the voice of my dad saying, " I don't know much, and I am the last person that should give advice- but. Then wisdom would flow from his mouth. Being bold and brave are codes of genetics from my mom. Being humble comes from my dad.
Be brave and fierce, but always remain humble, became my motto.
The artifacts held within the boxes were not just family history, but American history preserved. When I opened the original box that contained my great grandmothers DAR pin, I became teary-eyed. I have found the study of history to be much like a football game. It is exceedingly more enjoyable when you know the players.
The article below, written on August 12, 1956, in the Sunday Digest by David C. Cook, is about dad's grandmother Dora. It tells of how dad's father, then all his aunts and uncles except for his uncle Arch, died within the years of 1946-1949—his aunts and uncles never had children. Dad was the lone Davis survivor of this entire generation. I can not imagine my dads' pain. Dad, being the only child in such a large family, must have been very special to his aunts and uncles who had no children of their own. Imagine the attention he received only to find them gone by the time he was 20 years old.
The story started—the story of a generation that was nearly lost but not the last. We are here. We have had children, and the family tree has branches sprouting through more generations. What about the story that preceded us. The story below is one generation. How far back does our heritage go living in America? A DAR pin says quite away....but there is more to be learned. Much more. Who is alive to tell it? My brothers and I. In honor of dad's heritage, our roots. I will write it. What a fantastic journey through the history of America!