Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Mother and me, 1959

I well remember a discussion with my mother as we did the supper dishes when I was about eight years old. “You know that your daddy and I are older than your friends’ parents, don’t you?” I said yes, I did. Somehow I knew from the beginning that my family was different from most with those “grown-up” sisters and a brother coming and going.

“We’re old enough to be your grandparents,” she went on, “and sometime someone might just ask you if we’re your grandparents. That’s all right. Just say that we’re your parents.”

Grandpa Portfors, Mother holding Polly Profitt, Nina
So, yes – enough years separated me and my parents that they could easily have been my grandparents. That’s why I said a couple of weeks ago that two generations separated me and my parents.

According to, “As a matter of common knowledge, we know that a generation averages about 25 years—from the birth of a parent to the birth of a child—although it varies case by case. We also generally accept that the length of a generation was closer to 20 years in earlier times when humans mated younger and life expectancy was shorter.” (You can read the entire article here.)

Grandpa Portfors, Mother holding Keri Walrath, Chuck Walrath
Of course, my parents are still the parent generation, and I am the child, but in terms of experience, they were two generations older than I. They were old enough to be the parents of many of my classmates’ parents. And my grandparents were old enough to be my great-grandparents – even my great-great-grandparents. In my opinion, my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were so old that they never really related well to my world. (Okay, you may have thought that of your parents, too, but in my case it was true!)

We speak of “the generation gap,” but when that gap is extra wide, I think it makes a difference in one’s upbringing. It’s not so much the years that matter but the parental values, their frame of reference. I didn’t see this in a positive light until I was about 50, but I now cherish the firsthand experience I had with the values of earlier generations.

Vance & Dorothy Dobson with Kathy, 1959
When I was still a little girl, my parents did become grandparents. From time to time, as a new grandchild joined the family, a four-generation picture would be taken. I admit I felt left out because I did the math and knew it would never happen for me.

It’s a huge subject, and I’m moving on. Next up: a subject easier to contemplate. KW


Chris said...

I knew your parents were older, but I certainly never put them in the same category as my grandparents. They were vibrant, interesting people, always doing something and seemed very up to date to me.

Chris said...

And I forgot to mention that I well remember those square floor pillows you're sitting on!

Kathy said...

Thanks, Chris, and yes, they were active people. And Mother did her best to stay up to date for my sake.

I loved those floor pillows, made possible by the advent of plastic, I'm sure. Mother and Daddy look like they're having a good time. I have considered cropping me out of that picture, but it still says something about the times, which is why I left it whole. That was our first t.v. set with Mother's birthday tree.