Dear Next Generation: ‘Life was much better back then because of our families’

January 25, 2021 Updated: January 25, 2021

Wisdom of the Ages:

I am 68 years old this past November and I would like to pass on some of the things I learned growing up. When we were little, I can remember my brother, sister, and I had chores to do every day and on weekends. Everyday chores were making your bed in the morning, eating breakfast and cleaning up, and making sure we had our homework done and ready for school.

On the weekends, we shared cleaning the whole house, helping my mom, and working outside during summer cutting grass and cleaning flower beds. I would have rather been playing with my friends then, but now I would like to go back and have one summer with my parents doing it all over again.

On Saturday, we all went shopping to learn how to feed a family and carried the groceries into the house when we were done. There are so many people today that did not have family structure to grow up in and never learned how to do the everyday common things in life.

My father worked in construction, and many times he took my brother and I and my two first cousins after school or on Saturday when dad and my uncle had a construction job to do.

I did the same things with my three children and try to help my nine grandchildren with the same life lessons.

One thing that I remember quite well is on a Sunday morning right after a big snowstorm—we lived in Buffalo, N.Y.—I thought we were never going to church this morning since no one could get their cars out from the side streets. I asked my parents how we could get to church since we couldn’t get out. They told me we were going to walk. I thought we were going to be the only ones there today. After we left home and walked to the first major street, I saw what must have been up to three or four hundred people with the same idea, walking along the side of a plowed major street. Nothing would stop us back then.

Life was much better back then because of our families.

Now my wife and I moved to North Carolina to be near most of our children and grandchildren to help them build the great life experiences we had growing up and hand down this great life to them!

John Brancato Sr.

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Dear Next Generation,

Listen more than you speak. Pick your mentors carefully. Learn from those who know more than you do. Read widely and never stop learning while you are still breathing.

Early in my career as a high school and middle school history teacher, I experienced a modicum of success and quickly thought too much of myself. It went to my head. I didn’t realize that I was still so ignorant of the art of teaching. Then in 1969, I moved my family to Naples, Florida, and met my lifelong mentor, friend, and confidant, Mary Ann Cunningham.

It was the early ’70s. Mary was assigned to a 4th- and 5th-grade team teaching experiment at Avalon Elementary School in Naples, Florida; I was the other teacher. We taught more than 70 students in a very large room. I soon learned that Mary was the master teacher and I knew little about my craft.

Every parent dreams of having Mary as a teacher for their child. She made success unavoidable for her students. She was always the teacher that most parents requested. Mix patience, kindness, honesty, creativity, perseverance, genuine affection for her students, and wrap it around knowledge and professionalism, and you have a superior teacher and mentor. She was and still is at 80-plus years a voracious reader who records the titles of every book she reads and why she likes it.

Mentors are those people who are respected and looked up to and always admit they don’t know it all and never will, but keep on learning. In the teaching profession, it’s called staff development. It’s true in every profession from the trades to the medical profession and every line of work in between.

Too many young people associate and look up to the wrong person or group. That is a recipe for disaster. Remove yourself from anyone, any group, or any situation that approves of drugs, breaking the law, or violating your family values.

Recognize a mentor as someone who genuinely wants to help and guide you without asking anything in return. Someone who possesses the qualities of Mary Ann Cunningham.

James L. Casale

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To the Rising Generation:

Once, long seasons past to eternity, we the people who have reached the time of life where our “long green home” is sending us postcards (in current terms: email notices), it was common for the striplings to seek the wisdom and knowledge of their elders. Sadly, it’s a near lost art, but this news sheet tries to continue the tradition. With that in mind, let me offer this from a 19th-century French American writer Mr. Stephen Grellet:

“I shall pass through this world but once: any good thing, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness I can show to any human being, let me do it now, let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

This quote I have printed on a linen canvas made as a faux scroll, hanging on a wall of my house. The words have served me well in a time of war, for 40 years of marriage, through my working life, and on to the assistance to children and grandchildren, that they may have a better start in life. It strikes the balance between selfishness and mindless altruism. It is my gift to you—the rising generation—to do with it as you will; for, indeed, I will not pass this way again.

Charles Anthony 

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Dear next generation,

Don’t open doors without closing those behind you. Forgive, life is too short to hold on to any negativity. Always be there for your family. Keep getting up no matter how many times you fall never give up. Always finish what you start, don’t give up. Give of yourself to those less fortunate and always put God first, and you will never be last.

Adela Rivera

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What advice would you like to give to the younger generations?

We call on all of our readers to share the timeless values that define right and wrong, and pass the torch, if you will, through your wisdom and hard-earned experience. We feel that the passing down of this wisdom has diminished over time, and that only with a strong moral foundation can future generations thrive.

Send your advice, along with your full name, state, and contact information to NextGeneration@epochtimes.com or mail it to: Next Generation, The Epoch Times, 229 W. 28th St., Floor 7, New York, NY 10001