My mother gave birth to six children. She, along with my father, had to endure the experience that most parents have nightmares over when they had to bury not one, but two of those children before she passed away several years ago. If I stopped this story right here it would be impressive enough, but their life stories go much deeper than that.
Both of my parents were born during the height of the depression and were raised during World War II. My mother was the product of a broken home. Her home life was so bad that at 15 she left. Even as a teenager she understood that an education was essential, so she continued attending school during the day. To survive she stayed with elderly couples, mostly strangers, and during the evenings she took care of them in exchange for room and board. To say that life had dealt her a brutal hand would be an understatement.
She managed to maintain her existence long enough to graduate from high school and then immediately went out and got a job. With the money she now earned from this job she was able to go back and retrieve her younger sister from the very same home life that she herself had managed to escaped earlier and together they scraped by until her sister had also graduated.
It would have been easy for my mother to have given up on life at any moment. She could have dropped out of school. She could have abandoned her sister. She could have turned to a life of crime, or in today’s society she could have simply sat back and whined about what an unfair hand life had dealt her. But this was the ’50′s and that wasn’t how things worked back then, so my mother didn’t do any of that. Instead she survived, and she did so through self-reliance and a sheer will to exist.
My mother and father were married the day before her 20th birthday. My father grew up in the country and had joined the Air Force right out of high school. He himself was a hard working man who often provided for our family by working side jobs to go along with his regular full time job as a machinist just to make ends meet. As often as not we had a “spare” relative living with us who had fallen on hard times of their own. Together my parents understood more than most what hard times were and what it took to survive them. They also understood what it meant to sacrifice for the good of others. It was the value system developed out of these life experiences that they instilled into each of us children to ensure our own survival.
Today, both myself and my remaining siblings have all attended college. We have each attained our own level of success and set out to raise our children with the same Christian Conservative values our parents had instilled in us. We were taught that we live in a land of opportunity, not equality. We aren’t all dealt the same hand, but it’s what we do with the hand we are dealt that counts. Quite often I get chastised by some who resent that my ideas don’t necessarily correlate to their own. Often when I hear others complaining about how rough they think they have it, I have a tendency to just smile and nod. When you read the posts that I write, you should realize these are more than just one man’s opinion. These are ideas that have been developed through both my own experiences, but more importantly from the lessons my parents taught me from their experiences as well.