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Rear-view ReflectionsBook Title: 

Rear-View Reflections on Radical Change: A Green Grandma’s Memoir and Call for Climate Action

Author: 

Linda Mary Wagner

Publishing Information: 

Self-Published, 2024

Link to Buy Book: 

Book Baby

Synopsis: 

Explore 50 years of transformative social movements in Linda Mary Wagner’s memoir Rear-View Reflections on Radical Change. These essays, stories, and poems, written between 1972 and 2022, advocate global unity for climate action, securing a better future for all. Spanning five decades and linked to her earlier work, Wagner’s narrative covers feminism, labor organizing, consumer advocacy, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ rights, democracy, and climate activism. Ideal for diverse readers, from young adults to activists, it inspires action on climate change. Join Wagner on this historical and activist journey.

Author Bio: 

Linda Mary Wagner, the author of Rear-View Reflections on Radical Change: A Green Grandma’s Memoir and Call for Climate Action and Unearthing the Ghosts: A Mystery Memoir, brings four decades of impactful leadership in local, state, and national nonprofit organizations. With an extensive background including roles at the Associated Press, Consumers Union/Consumer Reports, the NYS Association of County Health Officials, and the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function, Linda has made a lasting mark. In her earlier career, spanning from 1976 to 1990, she shone as a freelance journalist for NPR and numerous other esteemed print, radio, and TV news outlets. Linda holds an MPA from Columbia University’s School of International Public Affairs and a BA from the University at Buffalo. With over 40 years of marriage and two grown children, she cherishes her role as Nana to five grandchildren. Linda resides in Albany, New York, proudly embracing the title of Green Grandma for Climate Action Now.

Book Excerpt: 

Preventing Family Estrangement When There’s Chatter of Civil War & Looming Climate Disaster

The days, months and years surrounding the Trump Presidency, the birth of social media like Q-Anon, TikTok and Telegram, and the SARS-COV2 pandemic have all exacerbated a centuries-old risk of familial estrangement.  In the U.S. during these years, widely diverging strains of revolutionary fervor have openly collided, resulting in a simmering undercurrent of civil war.  One way to keep the simmer from reaching boiling point is for families – biological and otherwise – to ensure that we keep channels of respectful conversation open.

During these years, our family has grown in many ways while my husband and I eased into retirement.  At the end of 2016, we celebrated the wedding of our daughter with family and friends, and the happy couple returned to Brooklyn to live. Six weeks later, our son met his life partner.  For many reasons, they had a whirlwind courtship followed six months later by a wedding so secret, they didn’t share the news with us until a few weeks after the fact.  As of May 2022, our son and his wife have four children and work remotely, spending part of the year in each of three homes in three different states.  In August 2020, our daughter and her husband moved from Brooklyn to North Carolina, also working remotely after the SARS-COV2 pandemic hit NYC.  They bought a home and had their first child there in the fall of 2021.

Our family’s aging and personal growth made us realize it was time to adjust to new patterns of communication with our children, who had shifted into full adulthood.  For older parents and their grown children, this adjustment involves a broad range of issues, from financial autonomy and different religious and political perspectives, to whether and when to share your own past work experiences or suggest job leads to them.  The topics may include mundane questions such as how to interact effectively (Email? Text? Audio telephone? Video conference?), whether to share cell phone plans and streaming video passwords, or how to find the right balance of transparency and privacy about medical, dental, and emotional health. 

This adjustment can sometimes be further complicated by any comments made by older parents – however benign or well-meaning – about their grown children’s partners in love.  At no point does the risk of tension ratchet further upward than it does when adult children have children of their own.  Based on my conversations with many other older parents, these strains are true for everyone, although their intensity varies greatly depending on many factors that are simply out of your control.  Positive adjustment to such major changes in life’s roles often involves a fundamental personal revolution.  You need to face the possibility that the aging of your parental role may reopen your own old wounds that your children never knew you had, and perhaps aggravate wounds that you never knew your children had.   Finding ways to navigate these risks and tensions is crucial to avoid serious family estrangement.

One old friend told me of another mother about my age who had grown alienated from her adult son after he got married and had children.  The estrangement was so serious that, two years after the alienation began, the mother died from an illness, and her son had never re-established contact with her, not even at her bedside as she slipped away.  This severe estrangement is a horrific tragedy.  If you want to prevent it from happening to you and your grown children, you and your children must become active listeners who avoid imposing past habits on the adults who happen to be your children or your parents. 

Personally, I needed to remember how I had approached my own parents when I became a fully grown adult.  I would prepare myself for visits by pretending that my parents were elderly strangers in a foreign land, that I was a guest in their home, and that I must treat them with the respect and manners I would use in such a situation.  I would imagine that my past as their little child or teenager was in a large suitcase that I left behind.  I have come to use the same approach with my grown children, but with the roles reversed – that is, they are young adult strangers from a foreign land, and I may not always understand their language or cultural habits, but I must treat them with the respect and courtesy that I would show to a younger foreign visitor.

Obviously, this approach has its limits, and parents and their adult children should want and need greater intimacy than the relationship between foreign acquaintances.  But greater intimacy is impossible without establishing and maintaining a foundation of respectful concern and discourse.  While no one should accept trends toward illegal activity, violence, or suicide in family members without intervention, too often the alienation within families is based on far more trivial differences or disagreements.

 As our nation and the world face the sobering reality of climate change, the prevention of family estrangement has never been more essential. All generations alive at this moment in history are called upon to work together to face the unavoidable consequences of climate catastrophe that humanity has wrought upon itself.  To ensure the future survival of the youngest among us and their future progeny, we must be able to talk to each other now.  We need political, business, and spiritual leaders who can make this common purpose a central priority at every level in every nation on earth if humanity is to survive. 

We also need leaders within families – leaders who can build bridges across waters poisoned by our failures to listen to each other with concern and compassion.  If we find the will for this one common purpose – the survival of our children, grandchildren, and their progeny in all their diversity – the other divisions between us have a chance to heal.

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