This I Believe

Lori - Fort Worth, Texas
Entered on December 20, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

I Believe That What I Do Matters

For years I’ve tried to figure out exactly what my parents did right. I mean, I’m the youngest of 6 kids and all of us, though certainly not perfect, turned out to be pretty good human beings. The majority of us didn’t even really cause Mom & Dad too much grief as we were growing up. Now that I’m an adult and have two teenagers of my own, I’ve wrestled with how I get them to appreciate and exhibit some of the same positive traits that we all like to see in the people with whom we surround ourselves – trustworthiness, strong work ethic, the ability to tell right from wrong and do what’s right – with minimal lecturing or punishment for infractions. My parents were able to. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I asked my sister what she thought it was that they did right, but she wasn’t sure either. We agreed, though, that we both grew up knowing that we didn’t want to do anything that would disappoint our mom and dad. I’ve continued to give the topic considerable thought and I think I finally have it figured out. They lived the example. They were “good people” as some folks say. I think I was an adult before I ever heard my dad use a four-letter word in front of me. It wasn’t that he never cussed. He just didn’t believe it was appropriate in front of children. I can remember going down to breakfast on a cold winter morning and seeing my mom handing food out the back door to a passing hobo. (Yes, there really were hobos back then.) We were in church every Sunday, and being out late on Saturday night was never an excuse for any of us kids to miss. As a matter of fact, the later we stayed out, the earlier my mom would wake us up. They worked hard. They were honest. And they made sure that we understood the importance of family. From the small things to the large, they did the right thing. I knew that, if caught in an unseemly situation, I could never point the finger at either of them and say they would have behaved similarly, because they probably would not have. That’s why I believe that what I do matters. Whether it’s as simple as saying “thank you” to the clerk in the store or doing the right thing when the wrong one would be easier, I have to ensure that my kids have the same example set for them that I did. I want them to be scratching their heads when they have children of their own trying figure what we did that made them turn out so well. That’s why what I do really does matter.