Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Toughened Up

This morning on my blog A Grandparent's Voice I wrote about an terrible accident that happened on Saturday. My niece and her family knew the four boys who were killed and their families. The news catapulted me back in time to when I was a young teen.

The innocence of youth can be snatched away so quickly. One day we are clueless teens. The next a child lies in a casket. The senior was a cheerleader. Everyone loved. I didn't know her well, but with all the kids in the school, we went to pay our respects to her. In shock I stood there with my friends looking at this lovely young woman in her cheerleading outfit and school pins on the sweater. We saw, but we couldn't comprehend. Back then no one had counseling. Farm kids just had to deal. We saw life and death often on the farm. But no child is prepared for the death of another child.

This isn't about tragedy. No, this is about an attitude in our home. We were expected to be toughened up. We were expected to deal with an event then move on. Moving on was not always easy. But no one ever asked.

I think we went to every funeral that ever happened in the area when I was kid. I had seen death in the coffins. I had stood at gravesides when I was very young. The memories are etched in my mind. We girls tagged along the same for weddings as for funeral. We sat there. Mom and Dad visited. We went home. No one talked to the children.

I remember my father's tears at my grandmother's casket. I remember my mother cooking meals whenever someone passed. I remember being sent to another room for a nap when my other grandmother died. I remember standing between my parents holding their hands looking at a small girl in a casket. All this I remember, but never do I remember explanation, calming fears, concern for the childrens experiences. It just wasn't done.

So, did I get to adulthood scarred for the lack of concern? I think I made it okay, yet there is an anger in be at death. Even though I can rationalize it now as an adult, all of the pain and sorrow I felt as a child still linger. Perhaps it is an anger at my parents for not tending to their confused children.

This is probably a morbid blog, but the intent is not so. I was raised, I'm sure, the same as my parents were raised. We farm kids had to be tough. Loss was often around us. It was the only way to survive the times of poverty pressed on us from poor crops or a herd that had to be destroyed. It was the only way to survive tragedy and loss. We had to be tough.

Oh, I'm tough alright. Or am I?

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