As a young child my daydreams sometimes projected me into a future of independent adulthood. As a college student, I was halfway there – living in the protected cocoon of a campus dormitory with rules and regulations, but still, living on my own, living away from the restrictions of family “musts” and “shoulds.” As a young married woman and then a young mother, I began to embrace the “musts” and “shoulds”; they became threads weaving a pattern of daily family life. We “must” celebrate this or that occasion with the family; we “should” get together, stay in touch with this or that family member. The “musts” and “shoulds” became pleasures, the traditions of a family begun by ancestors in another country became the traditions I wanted to pass on to my children. The social changes of the world were reflected by the social changes in my family. Relatives were no longer so close in distance, although still close in my heart. As a single parent, my children depended on me. My strength came from the routines, the traditions, and most especially the emotional support of family which were the constants through myriad challenges. Without my family, I would have felt alone, hopeless, helpless and inept. My children grew into adults of whom I am proud. My son is a solider in Iraq, not as much for nationalistic pride and civic duty, as to be independent, to grow up and learn about who he is. I now own the four family building which has been owned by family since it was built and where my parents brought me home as a newborn. My daughter, her family and I live there and enjoy the sense of continuity. No longer a young daydreaming child, I am “grandma” to two boys who give me their unconditional and trusting love. I hope I can pass on to them what I believe. In these sophisticated times, I know it sounds outdated, but this I do believe – the love of family is one of the most dependable, enriching and enduring experiences of a lifetime.
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