Apr 13, 2004

I really love my family. I have been thinking about them a lot lately, and realize how much I have taken them for granted over the past several years. I have so many wonderful memories, lessons learned, experiences given....I just cannot share them all. But I am enjoying reminiscing the past, especially my childhood. Despite the struggles my family went through with divorce, my mother being in school full-time, being poor...I still think back and smile.

I do not know how my mother did it. I have said this before, but as I get older, the more I am perplexed in trying to figure out how she raised us. My mother is truly a remarkable woman, and so are her sisters. They each have gone through such heart-wrenching trials, and yet they each have come out strong and successful. They each love the Lord, and have raised good children. How remarkable they truly are!

Super-Moms, that is what they are. I will share my mother's story. She married somewhat young, and almost immediately got pregnant with me. Three kids and seven years later, she was separated and later divorced. I cannot even imagine what an ordeal that must have been for her. Then she went back to school full-time, worked almost full-time, and raised the three of us, with the help of her loving sisters. She supported a family of four on $649 a month. I know, because I was a somewhat precocious child, and I was always worried about our family's finances. I was the one who ran out to the mailbox on the 1st of every month to collect the check. I was very well aware of how little we had, yet despite it all, she raised us on that little bit of money as well as with some help from her sisters. We never went without anything that we needed, and we received just enough of our wants to satisfy us, yet not spoil us. My mother taught us by example and by word the value of hard work, both physically and mentally. She taught me the value of prayer and faith, especially in the face of such trial and adversity. Her theme during those years was the song "Livin' On a Prayer" by Bon Jovi -- and she would listen to that whenever she was down. She kept her cool, and I very rarely saw her cry. She was always upbeat with us, and loved us so much. I know the three of us never questioned it.

How did she do it? How did my mother accomplish the seemingly impossible? She refused to be a statistic; she refused to allow her family to continue the vicious cycle that both her family and my father's family had dealt with. She was not going to allow her children to become what most divorced, poor children, born with genes laden with alcoholism, physical abuse and depression, become.

And we didn't. My mother taught me so much, and is so much a part of the woman I am today. She taught me to never give up. She taught me that if I put my mind to it, I could accomplish anything. She taught me the value of education and of industrialism. She taught me to respect others and love them despite their choices. She taught me religion and spirituality. She taught me faith and perseverence. She taught me to be strong and courageous in the face of adversity. She taught me to love and respect myself, and to always do my best, but at the same time she never demanded perfectionsim. She was always there with a sincere compliment or loving correction when needed. She never pushed me more further than I was willing to go myself. She taught me to not accept 2nd best -- to recognize that which I deserve. She taught me that I was a daughter of God.

Despite the lack of money, we were involved in all the extra-curricular activities that we could be in. My mother wanted us to be educated as well as well-rounded. I took 6 years of dance and have a trophy to prove it. I was involved in school productions, government, clubs, cheerleading...and when I was old enough I also worked a part-time job. She encouraged me to save money to go to Paris with my French Travel Club, of which I was president. She sent all of us to scout camp, Girl's camp, or day camps. Each year we would pile into our AMC Gremlin or Ford Escort, along with my Aunt Colleen and her two boys, and we would drive all the way down to Great America or to Wisconsin Dells to camp for the weekend. Boy, we looked forward to those vacations! I remember so many things about those days...I remember the tornado that came while we were camping at Jellystone park. I remember my sister and my cousin Jason, who sat in the back of the hatchback, having to duck everytime we screamed "COP!". I remember the night when our Gremlin flooded through the holes in the floor (and I think that was the last time I ever saw that monstrousity, LOL). I remember the first time I went on a roller coaster with Topher and Kevin at Six Flags Great America.

Oh, I could go on and on. But my point is, I have such fond memories. I had a wonderful childhood. I know my mother thinks back and wishes she could have done more for us, but the three of us see things differently. When we had no electricity for three days, we didn't find reason to complain. Rather, for us it was an adventure! We may have been embarassed by the loud, ugly cars my mother drove to drop us off at school, as we asked her to kindly leave us a block away, but we knew at the same time how grateful we were to have transportation, and an Uncle who could fix the car when it constantly broke down. I remember how little money my mother spent on herself; in fact, I don't remember her ever buying herself clothes or anything for herself, but she would spend what extra she had on us, buying us those needed gym shoes or paying for a field trip for school.

I love my family, I really do. Despite the arguing that occured, especially when we were teenagers, we were always there for each other, through thick and thin. I know I was a hard person to get along with, yet my family patiently endured through those tough times and I am so grateful for them for doing so.

They are my strength and my joy. Sure, there are times when not even my own mother may understand me, but the fact that she tries is what means so much to me. She has never given up on any one of us, not for one second, and for that very reason we are the people we are today.

Mom, I love you. Auntie C, I love you. Auntie and Uncle M, I love you. Keekee, Tanya, Corey and Seanie, I love you. JC and Lyssa..I love you. Topher and Borie Boo, I love you.

I love you all. Thank you for being my family.

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