This I Believe: Parents Give You More than Life
Growing up in a middle class suburb, my family was not the richest in town. My parents came from working class backgrounds and often could not afford the world they were living in. Their goal was not to attain material things. My parents focused on providing a safe place with good schools. We were not the family with the fancy cars, huge houses, or exotic vacations. Our cars were always beat up and our vacations were limited to day trips to the jersey shore.
My parents struggled financially but it never stopped them from helping people. My parents gave money, furniture, and helped people move. My mom went without lunch to give a coworker money for the bus ride home. My father was incredibly charismatic and could find anyone a good job…even the son of the receptionist at my dentist office. We saw that many people were worse off than us. We learned through my parents’ actions, through their struggles, through their giving. We saw what it meant to be a loving person.
My mother taught us to be empathic by posing the question: how would that make you feel? When I was in second grade, I wanted to have a sleep-over party for my birthday. I asked my mother who I should invite. She said, “Remember how sad you felt when you were left out. You should invite every girl in your class.” And yes, one Friday night, twenty 7year old girls showed up on our doorstep. I think my mom aged a few years that night.
Many times we didn’t have much but we had each other. We did have hours of horsing around in our above-ground pool, playing board games together and so many blockbuster nights. When my friends invited me over I often made excuses why I could not go. Most kids had plenty of reasons to leave but I had so many to stay; a mother who stroked your hair while you laid your head in her lap, a father who made fun of her giant head and two sisters whose love was as abundant as their laughter.
My parents worked long hours. They were not the parents who ran the PTA or baked brownies for the craft fair but they were the parents who drove all the kids to the movies and mall on the weekends; the parents who let you stay up late during sleepovers and eat cold pizza for breakfast. They never expected us to be anything other than ourselves.
Suddenly in 1998, my younger sister was killed in a car accident and my father passed away 3 years later. An amazing amount of people turned out to support our family. They might not have remembered us as the richest family but no one could deny our love for each other and how we passed that onto the world.
Parents give you more than life; they show you how to live.