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Older Generation

I think the older generation was cut from a tougher cloth than most others. Case in point was my very funny, super sweet friend who was an all-around amazing lady, Fran Donovan who recently passed away. She ran the “Ugly Quilt” program (among other things) at Holy Name of Mary Church, where she would sew the outer shell of the sleeping bags for the homeless, bring them to the church, and then show a small group of volunteers how to stuff the outer shell and sew the material together for warm blankets every week. She was 85 years old when I first started. At 99 years old, she was still driving her car full of outer shells she’d sown during the week, help us fill them, and then she’d drive them to Binghamton to drop them off at the homeless shelter! At 99 years old!! You know what I’ll be doing if I make it that long in life? Probably propped up by pillows somewhere staring blankly into space trying to remember my name and dreaming about the good ole days when I could get dressed without help. She would email us a beautifully written, inspirational, eloquent email if it was canceled from the weather, because she was hip and sharp as a tack like that. Sometimes I would email her to call in sick. Do you know how ridiculous and uncomfortable I felt to message a 99-year-old lady to say hey I know you’re literally twice my age and all, but I’m not physically up to it today? Speaking of a tougher older generation, my Dad said he’d drive 40 minutes through blizzards from Irish Hill to IBM Endicott to work years ago, and would answer the phone from people in Endicott who were trying to say they couldn’t make it to work because of the roads. He’d answer and they’d say, “Jerry is that you? Never mind, I’ll be right there.” That’s a bit how I felt emailing Fran. Then there was the 3-day Church Festival…guess who still worked that? If it were me, I would’ve said at about age 75, “Can you please put me on the do not call list?” She makes all the other elderly at the church still put in their time. If your 99-year-old friend still shows up for her shift, you really have absolutely no excuse for not being there yourself. That generation had washboards instead of washing machines that did the scrubbing for you, chickens to feed, eggs to gather, clothes to make, horses for travel instead of fast cars, floors to scrub by hand because there were no hot water shooting, self-ringing magic mops like we have today, and yet they still had time to visit with their neighbors, volunteer countless hours locally and make unbelievable meals from scratch! Their time management skills certainly seemed better than ours! Fran, born in 1919, always had a constant smiled despite living through wars and the Great Depression. I’d be in the fetal position in the corner if I went through all that. They probably have seen the most dramatic changes to this crazy world in their lifetime, and they’ve certainly shown us how to handle things with grace and sheer strength. This world needs more Fran’s, but her example is certainly set for the rest of us to strive towards!

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