What’s in a Name?

Kelly - Valdese, North Carolina
Entered on February 28, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

My family name holds a story. Though our name does not flood bookstores, light up the movie theater, or appear in the index of a history book, it has meaning. The pages are full of Girl Scout trips and family vacations, good times with loved ones and hard days at school. Sadly, throughout family my story I have been forced to grow up in a world where lay offs are just around the corner. I have faced the monster called the lay off. I have seen every pore in its skin, and I have smelled its stench of failure. I have been there.

As I stepped off the bus that blustery October day, I was surprised to find my father waiting for me. His work day should have begun hours ago. Although my baffled, young self had several questions, I felt the need to throw myself into the arms of my father and embrace the “daddy’s girl” stereotype. It was just as fulfilling as always for me, but sadness flooded the eyes of my father. I did not question the emotion but rather trudged to the front door to indulge myself in his company. When my mother returned from her job later that evening, my family and I sat down for a classic family meeting. I tried to remain ignorant to their gloomy dispositions, but the subject was inevitable. They were crying. Big, gushy, soppy tears were running down their faces. Within the mist of their weeping, a voice emerged, “Your father has been layed off,” my mother said. I didn’t understand the concept, but there was no denying the pain. That single instance, that single phrase consisting of six words, changed my life and my outlook on the future forever. My father had lost his job.

It took several months for my father to get back on his feet. He searched the “help wanted” section of the paper well for several nights. He traveled from job to job until he finally reached his current position. He loves it. Admittedly, money is still in short supply at my house, but in spite of this fact, one is greeted with joy the minute he or she crosses the threshold. The only regret I encounter when I look back at my family’s unfortunate situation is the simple fact that I know my father could do so much more. As my parents grew up, they were never pushed to further their academic careers. They were never encouraged to attend college. If they received a high school diploma they were considered scholars to their parents. Like many other people without a four year degree, my parents have been stuck in low paying jobs or jobs that they despise. I have seen them struggle all of my life. It has made them emotionally distraught and financially burdened. I do not want that life. I want a life full of accomplishments and meaning.

I guess what they say is true: the older you get, the wiser you become. Over the years I have come to the realization that my father could have a more sustainable future if he had a better education. I want that sustainable future, and I know I am capable of it. Words cannot describe how grateful I am to be my parents’ daughter, but I want a better life for myself and my children. I want to go to college and pursue a career that will not only insure my future, but will keep me financially secure. Being proud of your family is a treasure that no one should take for granted, but bettering yourself despite the past of your family is a goal that everyone should aim for. This, I believe.