Two generations of my family are best defined by the things they almost never discussed with me. For my grandparents, it was the desperate poverty of the Great Depression, followed by the heartbreak that was World War II. For my father and mother, the event that shaped the years of their early adult lives was the Vietnam War.
I am a member of the first generation of my family who, upon looking back, cannot claim to understand what they went through. My generation has nothing of the kind—and this, as my mother once said quietly to me, is probably the greatest blessing we will never comprehend.When I was ten, I was given a school assignment: to interview an older member of my family to learn what their life was like when they were my age. I picked my maternal grandfather's eldest sister, Belva Davis.