My local library has windows that look exactly like the windows of the library where I grew up in Greenburgh, New York. The sight of those windows instantly cleared the cobwebs off some of my visions of childhood.
I remember when I was a little boy, growing up in a garden apartment complex in the early 70's, idolizing Evil Knievel and imitating him by riding my Big Wheels down the hill and "popping a wheelie". I had the best of friends that all lived within a 3 block radius. I had sleepovers. I told my kindergarden teacher that Nixon was a crook, but I didn't really know why. My sister wore Dr. Scholl's clogs. And the world was fascinated with bell bottomed jeans.
As the song goes, "those were the days". You knew who the bullies were. You knew who the kids you wanted to hang around with were. And you didn't really care whether the spaghetti you were eating for dinner had ketchup or marinara sauce on it. Whereas now I would be going to Houlihan's or Ruby Tuesday's, I would go to Burger King or McDonald's back then. Tres bourgoise! But it didn't matter. Everything was OK. You had a bed to sleep in, under a roof to keep you dry, some 33 1/3 speed records, baseball cards, various types of balls, and if you were good, you could stay up late to watch TV. All of life's essentials. I remember feeling good back then. Safe. I wasn't even humiliated by my "bowl" haircut or red plaid pants. Had the seven year old kid I was been asked back then how my quality of life was, I probably would have responded with a resounding "good" and turn the corners of my mouth upwards just enough to make you wonder whether I was sincere or just a kid with a pleasant disposition who didn't really understand such a question.
I had been to "John's" house for a 'signal 9' (rescue call) about six months or so ago when his feeding tube came out. He wasn't smiling yesterday when my bus came to his house again. He couldn't. See, he was non-verbal, non communicative, with a long medical history, including a couple of CVAs that had left this frail man in his 80's in the custody of his wife and a specially rigged bed for the remainder of his life. This time he had managed to bite and mutilate his thumb to such a degree that it got badly infected and required him to be transported to the hospital for further treatment. His wife was with him. but no other family members were. They were represented only by old, dusty photographs around the house.
I never saw such a situation like John's when I was a boy. I wonder if it would have made me cherish my childhood days with the same inensity then as I do now. I can tell you that there are a lot of times when I handle legal cases for clients whose situations are something akin to an episode of Maury Povich or Jerry Springer. I admit, that on occasion, I watch those shows. And when I do, there is one prevailing thought that goes through my head - "thank GOD that is not me." When I was treating John, my 'heart' was in it. When I deal with my clients, my 'heart' is not. Regardless of their situations, I do my best for my patients when I am an EMT, and my clients when I am an attorney. Nonetheless, there is a "disdain", if you will, that exists for most of my clients. I think it's because they seem to accept their social status, and refuse to fight their weariness for the benefit of their future generations. The patients are somehow, more "helpless".
I went into the library, and I asked the librarian for a book on how to bring up my children the right way. She chuckled for a second, then stopped laughing when she thought there was a possibility that my question might have been a serious one. She must have been a mother herself. She cocked her head a little, flashed a comforting smile, and told me "if you're thinking about it that much, I'm sure they will be fine." So I took an Ansel Adams book out with loads of black and white photographs of windows.