While growing up, I had both of my parents in my life. Not only did I have them, but I had them still married and under the same roof. There were no long term illnesses. There was no abuse. Not many people are so lucky. Of course I cannot say there were no arguments, but regardless, there was always a lot of love. I feel extremely fortunate.
Growing up in the Midwest and Catholic, I went to church with my family every weekend. My parents were very close to their brothers and sisters, nine on my father’s side, five on my mother’s, so we spent a lot of time with them. My brothers and sister, Andy, Barry, and Julie, and I enjoyed large birthday gatherings and anniversary parties. We had relaxing summer vacations at a cozy cottage resort on a small lake in northern Wisconsin. Our Fourth of July parties were filled with bright sparklers and fireworks in every color, and at Christmas we traveled to every single one of my many aunts’ and uncles’ houses on my father’s side to view their Christmas trees and eat plenty of food. I was learning family traditions, and I didn’t even realize it. I thought I was just having fun!
Being around my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins so often, I was taught to respect my elders, my parents, my peers, and myself. When I was young and my parents said, “Respect your elders”, I said “What are elders?” My parents said, “Anyone older than you.” But I really didn’t understand what respect was and why I should give it to people older than me until someone said, “Treat others the way you’d like to be treated yourself.” “It’s just like when you want to play with someone else’s toy, and they don’t let you. Remember how that made you feel, and when someone else wants to play with one of your toys, and you don’t want to share, you share.” So I decided everyone wants to be respected.
I have learned to appreciate all things. My father, raised on a farm, taught me that the weather can be sunny and warm or windy, cold, and miserable, but there’s a purpose for every season. I appreciate my health. I watched my father and mother help to care for my grandparents; I saw how helpless we can become. I appreciate financial stability. Growing up with four children in the house, I don’t know how many times I heard, “We can’t afford it.” And most importantly, I appreciate the love and support of family and friends, because without them, how would we deal with all the things that don’t go our way?
I believe in family values. I was taught morals, rules to live by, with examples and discipline. Much of what I learned and experienced as a child is due to my parents, my family.
I believe respect and appreciation are a basis for quality relationships with others. I have seen the horrible way some people treat others, and I have come to the conclusion there are many people not as fortunate to be raised the way I have.
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