Native Writes: The heartbeats of life


ALAMOSA Whenever they let me, I love listening to the heartbeats of my grandchildren.

When they were babies, it was easy; today, they are headstrong individuals who have been made aware of potential assaults.

It doesn’t help when I tell them changing their messy diapers wasn’t an assault, so why should a hug be suspect?

I spent some time recently comparing my life between the ages of 15 and 20 to the lives of young people today. They were vastly different, yet so much alike.

When I was 15, I hated my parents separately but equally. They were both “in my business.”

I was grounded for the rest of my life at one point. I think I still am, because there are some things I could do, but don’t and my little teen rebellions seem ludicrous.

There was little to be gained from breaking curfew but doing so was one of my personal rebellions.

In truth, Alamosa after 10 p.m. was genuinely spooky.

One of my mom’s friends loved to load her children, myself and whatever other kids were available, tell us to hide our eyes and drive to a familiar location, then see if we could guess where we were. It was interesting and scary. I didn’t recognize the back door of the neighborhood grocery when it was closed and dark.

Some of the spookiest places are long gone or very different, now.

In addition, the grand kids stay close to home, in contrast to myself and my friends, to whom walking around the neighborhoods and the downtown area was common.

Television, if we had it, was a flickering box drawing its signal from a roof antenna and hand-held games didn’t exist. We played board games, not only together, but with mom and dad.

The neighborhood was home to people who generally got along with one another and the extended family was nearby. My grandparents lived on the corner of a block where old and young seemed to blend together.

We played tag, hide and seek, kick the can and other games invented on the spot.

I still like to visit the old neighborhood, though it has aged, and the friendly faces are no longer there.

It’s time to remember the girl who died too young, the boy who went to war and came back changed, the cookies always baked and offered by the elderly woman in mid-block who loved kids and the crab apples filched from the old man who hated us.

They are all gone, now, and one of the homes that once was a welcome haven is boarded up.

The heartbeats are dim echoes, their cadence a memory.

It has been said each new generation is a step toward immortality, but I find myself wondering about those tomorrows my grandparents and parents dreamed of and can no longer sit in the yards and watch the children at play.

Life isn’t what they expected. It’s not what I expected when my three sons were born and grew up. I listened to their heartbeats and still do. They allow hugs.

As I travel from point A to point B, I hear the heartbeat of the community, the valley around me and the world in general, whose rhythm is irregular and as frightening as the back door of the power plant at 11 p.m.

The new generation is being born, with promises of better tomorrows, while my generation are the grandparents and great-grandparents. Listen to the heartbeats we have created.

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