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The Wheel Turned

My aunt, my mother’s sister, passed away this weekend. Letha Marie Spangler was 85–a full life. Interesting how she was stricken with cancer in the 60s, yet she outlived her only sister by more than 20 years. My sister was especially faithful to stay in touch with her right up to the end. 

Over the years, I have lost a lot of aunts and uncles on both my mother’s and father’s sides, but the loss of this aunt was different. She was the last surviving member of the family she was born into. That means, as far as my mother’s family is concerned, I am IT, the next in line as the oldest grandchild and nephew.

The Generation Wheel has taken a turn. But what does that mean?

When I got word that my aunt had passed away, my thoughts went back to a time when we all converged at my grandmother’s place in Shawnee, Oklahoma, for a picnic one summer. We went to a place my dad called Boy Scout Park there in Shawnee. I have that day preserved on video. It started out on 8mm film.

(Years ago, Dad would load up the old Keystone projector and show the film on a sheet hung in the doorway. As it got to the end, my sister and I would ask him to run the projector backwards. I remember how we used to howl with laughter to watch our kin “eat” by taking food out of their mouths and putting it back on their plates. And there’s Dad playing “backwards” catch with one of my cousins. He’d put the ball in his gloved hand and it would magically go flying out of the glove and into the air.)

It’s a shame we can’t run time backwards like the old Keystone projector collecting dust in my attic.

It occurred to me that EVERY adult in that grainy, old film is now deceased, one whole generation plus my grandmother.

If there are memories to be preserved, it’s now up to me, Sis, and the cousins.

If there are lessons to be taught, it’s now up to me, Sis, and the cousins.

If there are kindnesses to be passed on, it’s now up to me, Sis, and the cousins.

If there is faith to be planted and nurtured, it’s now up to me, Sis, and the cousins.

There’s a challenge worth the taking.

James Sutton, Psychologist


February 12, 2007 - Posted by | family, Inspirational, Parents, Special Occasions


  1. The passing of the torch is an honored tradition. With the torch you have the duty and ability to pass on the “light” to all who may come, until it is yet another turn in the wheel, when you will proudly pass the torch on to the next generation.


    Comment by tobeme | February 12, 2007 | Reply

  2. A new web site is out to help do just that: preserve the memories before time and dust deteriorate the film. It’s called XPEERi Retro and offers a catalog for digitally converted 8mm film. It’s to be an archive of personal history, culture and family legacy.

    So many of us are finding it our duty to “pass the torch”. If we don’t, who will? This is our chance to share what we hold dear. I thought you might be interested in the project.


    Comment by Kowen | February 14, 2007 | Reply

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