I listed to a message about honoring your father and mother today. Father, mother — the heart of the family unit. Family is so very important to me, even though like many other others, mine isn’t perfect.
So, do I honor my mother and my father? My mother passed away eight years ago, and I have never known my father well. Things weren’t perfect, but there are things about both of them that I appreciate. I want to focus on the positive, and honor my family in that way.
My mother was a hard worker. I’m sure her life didn’t turn out the way she planned, but she tried to make the best of it. I know she loved me and my brother and sister. She wanted what was best for the family, and she tried to do fun things with us when she could. She stood up for us against anyone who came against us.She put herself through school as a single parent and made a home for us. I know she got help from my grandparents, but I have great respect for her efforts. I had no idea how hard life could be until I grew up and faced similar struggles. The saying is that children never appreciate certain things about their parents until they grow up and have children of their own, and I think that’s true.
My father was almost unknown to me. I didn’t see him from the time I was a baby until I was about ten years old. Then he came back into my life with a whole new family — more sisters, a brother and a step-mother. I know he loved me too, but I guess he wasn’t able to show it. He wasn’t one for conversation, so he wasn’t easy to get to know. But he stood up for his beliefs, and was very forthright about them, and that was something I could respect. For his business, he would buy a plot of land, draw up plans, build a house from the ground up by himself, and sell it. He built a house about every 9 months. It took a long time before I appreciated how well he had to plan to be able to successfully do that, or how smart and skilled he was in order to build houses himself. I guess that made him architect, plumber, carpenter, electrician, and everything else. I wish he could know now how much respect I have for him. I’ve lost touch with him again, and haven’t been able to find him. I’m not sure if he is still living or not.
My family has included other “parents” as well. My aunt is very dear to me. She and I seem to have more of the same heart, and every time I see her I come away feeling refreshed, and loved. She means the world to me, and I have tremendous love and respect for her. She’s very firm in her beliefs too, and will talk to me openly and honestly about life’s ups and downs. She knows people in a way so few do, and she is the one you want to have with you to talk out a difficult situation. She took in both my younger brother and myself at different times. Her husband is similarly a father figure to me. He’s also very direct, honest and firm in his beliefs. He listens when I talk, and then gives good solid advice. It means so much to me to have family I can depend on in that way.
I used to call my grandmother my “second mother.” While my mom worked and went to school many long hours, trying to provide for her family, I would often spend weekends with my grandmother at her place in the country. It was there that I learned my love of raising animals, became interested in canning and cooking, got my yearning to grow things, and placed value on using what was at hand. My grandma was the original “trash to treasure” queen. We decorated Christmas trees with sweet gum balls wrapped in salvaged aluminum foil, made stools out of potato chip cans, grew plants in discarded tin cans, sewed stuffed animals from fabric scraps, and made a bird feeder from a metal trash can lid. She hatched chicks in a coffee can with a light bulb. Her husband, my grandfather, raised thousands of rabbits. From him I learned efficiency with the animals, and a joy in raising things. He also instilled respect in many ways, including a respect for the law (he wasn’t in law enforcement, he just warned me about things. And a warning from him stuck for life!). He was the first one to take me out to shoot, and taught me to respect firearms. He also introduced me to his workshop, and I learned to respect everything in there as well. And even though he was gruff throughout my entire childhood, I have a little black and white snapshot of myself as a baby, standing next to him on the couch. I was leaning into him and smiling, and he was smiling and looking all lovey-eyed at me too, caught forever on film in a single unguarded moment, so I treasure that photo.
I spent quite a bit of time with my great-grandma as well. From her I learned of the strength to be found in faith, special lessons on the importance of family, and a love of pretty things — especially pretty things gathered and arranged, or made by hand. She used to make dolls and dressed them up. She had two couches in her living room, and one of them was covered with dolls. She also had discarded television cabinets with only the glass in place, featuring arrangements of miniature countrysides inside that I used to stand for hours and study. In her bedroom stood an old foot-pedal sewing machine. At her kitchen sink was a hand-pumped faucet. So from her I learned to love everything from the vintage glass doorknobs on the french doors that separated her dining room from her living room with its white lace curtains, to rustic accents such as the raw beams that made her bedroom ceiling and the large rocks that made her front porch. She was the inspiration for my love of shabby chic.
Most of what I see in myself, I can trace back to these wonderful people in my family and their influence in my life. And I like who I am … so I am thankful to them for their influence and I honor all of them who have given of themselves into me to help make me who I am today.
My family — I love you all dearly.