Monday, May 20, 2024

And we think this is tough?

| May 6, 2020 1:12 AM

Still here.

My father was born in 1910.

His own dad died before his son celebrated his first birthday, which meant that as a teen, Jack Cameron had to help support his mother and himself.

Dad kept them afloat, and then paid his way through accounting school as a professional gambler with his rent on the line — mostly on pool tables across San Francisco.

Now fast forward to the present ...

It’s a mess out there.

Hard to tell between what’s a real threat and what is just simple panic and hysteria.

For a small amount of perspective, though, imagine you lived through my dad’s life — and saw the world that confronted him.

When he was four, World War I started — and ended just prior to his 14th birthday.

A mere 22 million people perished in that war.

Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hit the planet and ran until around his 16th birthday — and 50 million people died from it in those two years.

Yes, 50 million.

Right around birthday No. 19 (and the beginning of his serious working life), the Great Depression began.

Unemployment hit 25 percent, the global GDP dropped 27 percent.

Misery ran until he was 25 or so — and was trying to scrape out a living by winning at the horse track.

When he turned 29, World War II started. But there was a little bit of good news: He was happily married to my mom.

By his 31st birthday, the United States was fully pulled into WWII, and even though Dad was deemed unfit for combat because of his eyes — a family trait I inherited — he served in the Army as an administrator.

Between his 29th and 35th birthdays, 75 million people perished in the war (although I was born in that span, which we’ll consider a good event).

Smallpox was a true epidemic until Dad was in his late 30s, and it killed 300 million people during his lifetime.

Indeed, that’s a correct number.

At 41, he saw the Korean War start, and ultimately another five million died.

From Dad’s birth until his late 40s, my family had to deal with the fear of polio epidemics each summer.

One of my best friend’s younger brother had polio, and I’d see him with a brace on his leg every day at school.

It was a reminder why my parents were terrified of polio and, until the Salk vaccine was developed, why they sometimes wouldn’t let me go into crowded movie theaters.

When Dad was 46, the Vietnam War began and didn’t end for 20 years.

An estimated 1.4 million people died in that conflict, and my folks worried almost constantly that I would be dragged into it.

Several of my friends were killed or wounded in Vietnam, but despite a stint in the U.S. Air Force, I dodged those bullets.

Dad died of cancer when he was just 61, but the Vietnam War raged on for another decade.

How did my folks struggle through all of that?

When you were a kid in 1985, maybe you didn’t think your 75-year-old grandparent understood how hard school could be. Or how rotten that kid in your class treated you.

Maybe you were more “sensitive” than previous generations.

Here’s an idea we can glean from history: Why don’t we try to keep things in perspective?

Your parents and/or grandparents were called to endure everything mentioned above, in addition to worrying every day about YOU.

So, now you have been summoned to the task of staying home and sitting on the couch.

Let’s endure, shall we?

• • •

“Breathe In. Breathe Out. Move On.”

— Jimmy Buffett

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