We Do the Best We Can

Rose - River Forest, Illinois
Entered on November 17, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe that we, as humans, try to do the best we can with what we’ve got. Money, knowledge, time, energy, whatever it is. People want to do the best they can.

My mother was born in 1939 in Chicago to German immigrants. It wasn’t an easy time in this country for anyone. It was particularly unpleasant for Germans, with the war and all.

They came from an area of Northern Germany where their families farmed. My Grandfather was the second oldest son; not the heir, so he went to the University, and became an electrical engineer. He and Grandma were strict, intelligent, and hardworking people. My mother and uncles were held to high standards, placed even higher to show the anti-German community that they were worthy of respect. Affection, according to my mother, was not something her parents showed her on a regular basis.

Both of my Grandparents have been deceased several years, and my mother made this statement just last year; the 48th of my life. I did not know the people of whom she spoke. From the moment I was born I had been held firmly in their warm and loving hearts. Hugs, laughs, kisses, and praise were the gifts routinely given to me by my heavily accented and round Grandparents. Despite the flaws that could be seen seeping through my good student exterior, I felt only unconditional love. I looked into my mother’s eyes and saw the pain she felt knowing that I had been freely given a gift she had spent a lifetime wondering why she hadn’t been worthy of.

“They did the best they could with what they had, Mom”, I told her.

“What do you mean?”

“No one gives us instruction books, no one tells us how to do it, or has the right answers. You and Dad did the best you could to live happy lives and to help me become a good person. Mike and I are doing the same. And what we hall have in common is that it hasn’t been easy and despite our best efforts, we’ve made mistakes.”

“Do you really believe that?” my Mom asked.

“Yes, I do. Just as I know that there a so many things I wish I would have done better; as a student, as a daughter, as a parent, I also know I did the best I could with what I had. And I believe that Grandma and Grandpa, and you and Dad did the same.”

I believe that this is part of what makes us human beings. Trying to be mediocre? The desire to be bland? Unaffected by potential failure? Seeking to disappoint your parents, your children, your boss, yourself? No. We are inherently good. We try our best. I believe that.