We lost faith in human progress when we lost faith in humanity.
Grandma always liked to talk about that one fine day, back in 1929 …
It didn’t start out very well, she was doing a chore she hated, pumping water from the local well and carrying the heavy, unstable bucket back up a steep hill. Her home in suburban Ennis had indoor plumbing, why was their holiday cottage on the rugged Irish coast so far behind the times? She was grumbling to herself about this when she heard a motor.
Her heart skipped a beat – could it be one of those newfangled automobiles? She dumped the bucket and looked around, but she only saw cows and grassy fields. The sound wasn’t coming from the road. It was coming from the sky.
At the same time, Charles Lindbergh was sitting in a cramped position, holding his eyelids open with his fingers, struggling to stay awake, hoping against hope that he hadn’t flown The Spirit of St. Louis too far off-course. He was thrilled to see the craggy, west coast of Ireland. Despite his rudimentary navigation, he was ahead of schedule and only three miles off course.
He didn’t see Grandma, of course, but she saw him, and she knew what that plane meant. She was seeing the future — and it would be grand!
She was right. Despite events that threatened to end her world; the tragic civil war that followed the Irish War of Independence, leaving home to cross the Atlantic, WWII, dealing with nasty Bronx landlords, she stayed optimistic about the future, for herself, her children, her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren.
And she lived to see it all — medical advances extended her life and saved her eyesight. Her walkup apartment was warm in the winter and cool in the summer. And she had all the running water she could drink.