†††† MY SISTER WROTE [Square brackets contain information added†††††††

††††† for clarification or, when empty, deleted to protect her privacy]:


Actually, our family was slightly dysfunctional all along.I think in retrospect that everyone did what they needed to do to "carry on".During our growing up years we each dealt with things as they were and when we became adults continued to do the same.I doubt there are but a few families that really matched the picture of what an American family was supposed to be.There was a great deal of change and growth during our growing up years and that contributed to the unsettled and rapidly evolving times.Family life stopped being what had once been the norm and the rapid changes in the structure of America started to show - we all are products of these times and the changes that came affected each of us differently;we are living with today what we experienced growing up.As one politician (perhaps Churchhill?) said - we are living in the best of times and the worst of times - holds true for each generation and each must deal with the cards they are dealt.





The picture came to us most forcibly through our television sets, and it was carefully controlled by corporations that wanted us to buy the things we saw advertised.Happy families drove station wagons, and so forth.There were warm times around the fire at Christmas, and lots of presents for everyone.


A brief look back into history shows that was not always the norm.What we experienced was almost the norm, except we had lots of money due to dad's success as a vice president at [†† ].†† We participated in the post war boom and rode high on it.

A happy childhood is not the result of things. An unhappy childhood can be caused by lack of things such as food and shelter, but having loving parents can help make up for misfortune.When the misfortune is consumerism and a glut of things which you are told will bring happiness, if you're not happy you're ungrateful, and it can be quite difficult to express or even discern unhappiness.



So, remember.....'don't ever sell your saddle 'cause life's a long, long ride' as a country song once said.





I recall a different version of this, told to me by a kid in East Palo Alto, who said: "If you lose your ride, you WILL be walkin.í"East Palo Alto abbreviates to EPA, but few people use this abbreviation. It's as far from the Environmental Protection Agency as you and I are from China.Itís a Negro ghetto. I had some accounts there, just across the freeway from Crescent Drive in Palo Alto, where the mansions of wealthy and established families also required my gardening services. I like the kidís version because it expresses an acute awareness of how the cards are dealt.


What goes around comes around.We get our 15 minutes of fame and sometimes we deal the cards.Instead of reacting, we become activists.And then what?We had all better think seriously about this because not only do we embody history, we're the present and the future.


It's the deal of the century.