“I am at that jumping off point” ~Fried Green Tomatoes, (Jessica Tandy’s character)
I begin with this little statement as a case in point. It means I’m at the end of my life, or pretty near anyway.
I managed not to listen to my parents and chose to learn whatever I wanted to learn, however I wanted, because I had absolutely no respect for my parents. You have to remember though, I was between twelve and twenty years old.
You see, I was the last of six kids, my parents did not get along (I didn’t know why then), and both of them left most of the time, to escape the poverty and disarray of the home life, leaving us 6 kids alone most of the time. The oldest children took care of the little ones–myself included there.
My eldest brother was twelve years older than I, my eldest sister ten years. But as each sibling grew and flew the nest, it was me alone that saw the last stand of my parents before the worst suffering would come about. I am talking about what became of my parents by that time.
When things got sticky and messy, and I had to pay for my consequences. By this time, both of my parents had died and I began to remember what it was my parents tried to teach me. Gradually, I worshipped their instructive advice and longed to see them again. Of course, this was long after they were gone, and I sorrowed tremendously over losing them.
I have in my old age, accepted the consequences of my obstinance, and endured the pain for which I was blamed in the lives of others who were in my care, because in my heart I felt I deserved it, even though I was never malicious, only ignorant. But ignorance is the consequence one receives when one is rebellious, and because I did not want to learn from those who knew better than I, there was much suffering awaiting me.
In reality, I did the best I knew how. Considering we all say that, we all never admit that had we listened to those who had already gone down those roads, we could have faired better. That bit of wisdom does not always work, especially if, of course, those in charge themselves didn’t know what they were doing because they didn’t listen to their own parents. But that was not the case for my mother, or father.
So what it is I am trying to tell you is that I learned a very valuable lesson in life, at this jumping off point.
There is a good many things about our parents that we could call “teaching” moments. Sometimes the lesson is what NOT to do. Other times, they may have some hidden wisdom in an area and not even realize they are bestowing it upon their young. You don’t need to question how they go about finding these things out. You just need to trust them sometimes.
Simply because you can see they do not know what they are doing at times, does not give us the right to disrespect them, or deny them any honor at all. Even when they stumble over their own lives, they try to do their best. Sometimes, if nothing else, we could choose to look at those things they may be good at handling, as pearls in the midst of a soggy, mud-filled swamp.
For example, my father was very good at maintaining his calm while trying to explain something very important. It may be that the content seemed minuscule in the area of importance, like “keep the handles on the pan inward from the outside of the stove, so you don’t bump into it and get burned.”
The point is: it was HOW he explained it, that was the lesson.
We would shrug, whine, and hassle him for telling us over and over again and yet, he told us over and over again and never got angry at having to say it over and over again. He never got angry for telling us, and he always spoke kindly, with warm eyes, a slight smile, and at the level of understanding of our age (about 10 or 11 years). THAT was the lesson. How to speak to a child of that age, whose disposition is that of rebellion. He never saw it, but to this day, I keep the handles inward, and have never been burned.
My mother, I am sure, was bipolar in the words of today’s hack doctors. She was emotional and very sensitive, as well as very creative, and having been caught in a cultural gap between her first generation immigrant parents and her third generation arrogant kids, it was not easy for such a person to adapt to a new way of the world.
In fact, many of us from generation to generation will experience a gap that we have to bridge inside of us. However, for those who held tightly the beliefs, the strengths of their generation, it is very difficult to let go if they are expected to do so. Add to that a hypersensitive person’s emotional apparatus, and you have yourself what the newly installed generation calls “bipolar.”
But one thing I always saw in her, as well as my father. She always prayed when she was alone. I might have peeked at her, and maybe that was a bit menacing. But she was so engrossed in her prayer that she never noticed or heard me or paid any attention. The lesson I learned from both of them in this area, is when you are doing something of value to you, nothing should get in the way of it.
How quick we are to complain, to blame others, to see only the negative of things. I wish I could have thanked them for such lessons as these, and a multitude of others.
Yes, there arenegative things that need to be skewed, but there are also things that need to be remembered and honored as well…. like the hard job of parenting, and our parents who never got a manual to know HOW to raise us.
When a family has money enough to care for their young, and when a family has education enough to see the teaching moments for their children…. and when family has managed to do well in life in many areas, it will obviously be a little easier. This was not our home.
But try not to think too much about what you did not have, and think about the tiny little things that helped you get a little better than your parents; that’s how civilization evolves…and we are part of that… I am more thankful than ever, now… since I am almost there with my ancestors in the afterlife.
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND MAY YOU HAVE THE BEST NEW YEAR OF YOUR LIFE. AND DON’T FORGET WHY CHRISTMAS IS EVEN SO IMPORTANT: IF IT WASN’T FOR HIM WHO CAME, AND WHO WAS THE EPITOME OF TRUE LOVE, we ourselves would not know how to forgive.
Forgive because we are forgiven. God is Love, and Love was born in the earth, bringing us the Christmas season to remember the meaning.