This I Believe

Jacob - Virginia Beach, Virginia
Entered on December 3, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: love, parenthood
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I believe if it weren’t for my parents, I would be dead. This is an overtly obvious statement, of course; yet, it is the truest thing I know today. It has taken me twenty-eight years to finally discover this – that the sole factor determining my life’s outcome – dead or alive – has always been the guidance and love of the two people that made me. In fact, I would argue that moms and dads are the number one essential ingredients in the making of happy, self-confident, loving human beings.

Most of what my parents passed on to me was oblivious to me until I grew up and looked back through the annals of family history and saw, yes, in an instant insightful flash of light, it was my parents who shaped my mind, who molded me out of the primordial goo that was my simple beginning, who passed on to me all the values that they deemed good and right.

My dad taught me how to play baseball. He never quite got to curve balls, or how to pull off a really great turning pick-off throw to second base, but he sure did give me the essentials about the game and how to play it. He definitely got his point across when he said, “Just go out there and give it your best effort. That’s all your mother and I expect out of you, try you’re hardest and don’t forget to have fun.”

He wanted me to play fair, a far cry from the “do anything to win” attitude I witness on ESPN everyday. He wanted me to use my head, to be smarter – not necessarily bigger and stronger – than my opponent. Respect, sportsmanship, dignity, fair play; later in life, these simple, yet, profound ideas about baseball translated into my views on the wide world, on ideas about politics, racism, sexism, and social justice.

What more could a child ever want from a father?

My mother always had her hugging arms at the ready, in case me or my brother or sisters had a crisis to deal with. Moms are the best, but my mom is the best mom in the world. No, not everyone says this. Some kids grow up without a mother. But, mine was never far from the scraped knees or sore throat of a sick child; the frightened, pregnant daughter; or the son, tormented by a broken heart.

My mom has been a public school teacher for some thirty years, touching the lives of hundreds of other parent’s kids. Yet, she never neglected her own four children. I remember countless times when she left her school kids to be with me for one reason or another – I was sick; I forgot to bring my lunch to school; I forgot my science project that she and my dad stayed up late at night with me working on – the list is endless and it continues to grow.

Recently, I became an uncle for the first time. My brother’s wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, two days before Thanksgiving. There have been complications, more serious than the usual ones that come with childbirth. My parents – now, grandparents – took off a week from work to be with my brother and his new family in this time of crisis and stress, just another example of their undying love for their children – and now, their grandchildren.

When I think of my parents and their enormous capacity for unconditional love, I am reminded that all of us were children once – criminals, politicians, drug addicts, the homeless – even presidents. I’m convinced, however, that if all these people had been given the love and attention that my parents gave to me, the world would be a much more peaceful place.