Over 35 years ago, my family and I lived in an apartment of a 4 unit building that my father owned. Dr. and Mrs. Gupta (not their real names) and their 4 children lived in one of the other 2 bedroom, one bath apartments upstairs. Dr. Gupta was studying for his American medical credentials while Mrs. Gupta worked.
Over the years, the Guptas and my parents became friends and so did the kids. My brother and I went to the Guptas apartment to play and the Gupta children came to ours often as well. As time went by, though, there was one issue that was straining the relationship. As would be expected with 4 young children and busy parents who had limited time to clean, the apartment was often filthy. Cockroaches infested the unit and soon were invading the other apartments. The other tenants started complaining. At some point, my father had no choice but to ask the Guptas to vacate the apartment. And so ended a relationship.
Time went by and a couple of years later my parents ran into the Guptas while shopping at Sears. They exchanged pleasantries, caught up on the kids and my father invited them over for dinner. And so began a renewed friendship, one that has lasted to this day. The Guptas have been to my wedding and those of my siblings. My parents have also had the privilege of seeing all the Gupta children married and even attending some baby showers.
I’ve always believed that there is something wonderful about the older generations. Tom Brokaw wrote about the men and women who lived through the Great Depression and the 2 World Wars. He coined the phrase “The Greatest Generation.” My parents generation also saw turbulent times and social unrest during the 1960’s and ‘70’s. Maybe that’s what made them great. Having seen uncertainty, turmoil, violence, death and destruction, I believe, taught them integrity and helped them value human life and relationships.
Today we live in a fast paced, ever changing, transient world where people sometimes don’t know the person in the house next door. Our homes just got bigger with fewer family members people living in them. We thrive on change and get bored with things easily. Fashions and fads come and go. The neighbors we didn’t know move on to other places. Could we be as forgiving and embracing?