To the Editor:
After her husband, Matti, died, Grandma lived alone in that big house up in Jessieville. She still had her “I Love Lucy” on the TV, kindly neighbors, and her dear coffee buddy, Mrs. H, from one block up nearer the hoist. As before, we came “back home” for Easter and Thanksgiving and Dad called her every Sunday. Invariably, she answered the phone after one ring.
Way back in the last century, my father took Grandma to the Ironwood Theatre to see and hear “The Jazz Singer,” the first talkie starring Al Jolson. She kept dabbing her eyes with her hanky during the movie. Dad asked, “What’s wrong, Ma?”
She replied, “What next?” She saw plenty of “what next?” until she passed on in 1967. Color TV. Assorted wars and some assassinations. The space race. Beatniks, hippies and the “British Invasion.”
Grandma wore a house dress, dappled dark brown or navy, with that pattern like the metal cup by the pump, or the coffee pot on the wood stove. She was of immigrant stock common to our area — men who worked 12 hours a day in the mine, the woods or on the farm, and women who toiled 18 hours a day at home. These people had both feet on the hard, sometimes rocky, ground.
Today, we are told that we live in a world “governed” by chaos theory, a world of cyberscience, robotics, 3D printing and nanotechnology. The very ground on which we tread is composed of subatomic particles and electrons so arranged at warp-speed as to appear solid. Yet physicists, claiming to have found the “God particle,” have failed to find even one particle of God.
It is heady stuff for the grandson of Swedish farmers and Finnish miners. I harken back to that morning when, as a child, I helped my grandmother plant new potatoes in ferrous ground between the house and the fence. I was the shovel man, she the master planter, on that perfect, priceless day.
Since that time, we have gained much in the name of progress. But we have lost many things of value and worth, in our society and in our personal lives.
Now it is my turn to ask “What next?”
At least I know how to plant potatoes in hard ground, dappled with basalt pebbles and treasured memories.