I have lived a charmed life. I was born to parents who had nothing materially, but who loved me deeply and were proud of me. I seemed to know that fact from my earliest memories around aged one. Yes, I do indeed remember things back to just after my first birthday. My parents started me off on a charmed and happy life, and I thank them for it.
Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day are upon us. I don’t do anything special on these days, but I do wonder sometimes just how much those, whose parents are alive, appreciate what they have.
Throughout my very young years, my parents were there for me. I was pulled unconscious from a lake at two. I was abducted and tortured and left for dead at the tender age of four. I was unconscious for hours after a bicycle crash. My mother was always there when I came to.
Then my father was killed in a plane crash when I was eight. In spite of the fact that I could barely read because of my dyslexia, my mother, who herself had left school at ten, inspired me to seek an education and set lofty goals. Then she died in a car crash when I was 16. These were my early lessons in mortality.
There have been many more losses, including the suicides of my youngest brother, a brother-in-law, an aunt, a first cousin and two colleagues. Last fall, I lost my son.
And yet, in spite of all these lessons in mortality, I have been a happy person all my life. I have learned to love in the present, because there might not be a tomorrow. I grieve like anyone else, but over time life gets better and better. I have indeed lived a charmed life.
When I hear middle-aged people complain about their aging parents, I’m reminded of a line from a song, "You don’t know what you have ’til it’s gone."
I think to myself, "No matter how much you might dislike what’s going on with your parents, the alternative of not having parents through your adult life is infinitely worse. You have been able to cry on your mother’s shoulder. You have been able to tap into your father’s wisdom and perspective. You have had parents that could be proud of your achievements and successes in life. You have had parents who love your children and have been a part of their lives. What a gift!"
I know the difference between having a relationship with a family member and not having that family member exist. When Mother’s Day and Father’s Day come around, I am thankful that so many people I know may not have to come to terms with this distinction until much later in life.
In spite of the hardships and heartache, and perhaps in part because of them, I have learned to reflect on the positive and have remained a very positive, happy person.
As Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day come and go, let’s count our blessings. Let’s appreciate and love our families as if today were their last day… Or ours.
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