Drew and I celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary this week. My latest book, a compilation of my first 300 columns, was published this week.

It was a week of remembrance.

43 years ago, I was filled with hopes for my life with Drew. I thought very little about the larger world around us. My marriage, my career; those were my focus. I wrote throughout those years novels, plays and a daily journal. These were my personal creative outlets while I forged a career in marketing.

We had our children and I began to think about what kind of world we would be leaving them. My focus expanded.

We survived illness. We lost our parents and world events became evermore important to me.

Ten years ago, a friend who published a monthly suburban paper asked me to write a column for the publication. My routine of writing about what I saw, felt, experienced and learned grew from that monthly column into the weekly columns I now pen.

Editing this new book forced me to re-read my first 300 columns that have appeared in Northwest Indiana newspapers. It was quite an enlightening stroll down memory lane. I marveled at all the changes in every aspect of our lives; some good, some not.

This has been a week of personal reflection. If I rubbed that lamp and was granted a wish that would be of most benefit to my grandchildren’s future; I think I have decided what that wish would be.

In a July 2011 column, I referred to our country’s loss of “my grandmother’s common courtesy.” I wrote, “I have reached an age where I find myself looking back through nostalgic eyes on a time when things were better. What has happened to common courtesy, good manners and that now seeming taboo concept of respect for parents, teachers and other persons of authority? Have we strayed so far from the common human decency which once seemed an integral thread in our life’s tapestry?”

Back then, it was the growing “me, me, me attitude” and a new acceptance of the crassness exhibited by our young people that I saw all around me. There seemed to be no respect for anything. It was displayed by our young people and promoted in living color by movies, TV and other cultural outlets.

Drew and I took our children and grandchildren out for dinner this week and our waitress commented “you’re all so nice” to us simply because we thanked her several times for delivering the food, helping to mop up an apple juice spill and refilling our coffee in a timely manner. Her implication clear: she wasn’t used to being thanked.

My ardent wish for not only my children and grandchildren but for yours, as well, is that they strive for more decency and re-learn the meaning of respect and humility. If these were pervasive principles, wouldn’t our world be a better place?

What’s a good stroll down memory lane if hope for the future isn’t at the end of it?

Wendy J. Levenfeld is a published novelist, playwright and columnist. Send comments to wendylevenfeld@gmail.com. Visit Wendy’s website at www.wendylevenfeld.com.

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