I wouldn’t change my Mom and Dad for anything in the world. They were great parents. My dad was a hard-working guy that did everything for his family. He had a terrible childhood and his reaction to it was to do better. Through hard work he rewrote the family legacy and became the only successful child in his family, and his siblings resented him for it. By success, I mean that he got a good job, bought a house, and planned for his future. He was a blue-collar guy that believed in work ethic and integrity. He didn’t care about how green the grass was on the other side of the fence. He cared about his yard.
My mother had a very different upbringing. While my dad was left largely to fend for himself in the hardscrabble section of town, my mother was under the umbrella of a very protective mother that tried to shelter her from the aspects of life what my dad would call an average Tuesday. Her parents were wonderful people and were a major influence in my life. My dad’s parents were less of an influence. His mother died when I was five and his dad was ill from emphysema for as long as I could remember and died when I was in High School.
Despite their very different backgrounds, there were a lot of similarities. While my dad was poor, my mother’s family had a better home in a better neighborhood. But the heads of both households were blue collar guys. Mom was an only child; Dad had several siblings. Obviously, many kids equal less household disposable income. The fact that my grandfather didn’t spend all of his money on booze and cigarettes made a difference as well. Mom’s father immediately accepted and respected my dad. He recognized the hard worker with integrity and what that brought to the table. They would share a wonderful bond as in-laws and friends. Mom’s mother treated my dad as she did all of her suitors and friends, as if he wasn’t good enough for her daughter. But she would grow to love and, perhaps more important, to respect him as well.
The commonality of the four is that they were all strong as hell. That strength permeated the dynamic that I would grow up with and it was unique and special. I didn’t know it at the time, it was just my life. But later in life, with life experience and access to the stories of others I recognized that I was fortunate enough to not only have 2 generations of good, decent and honest people to spend time with, but also the perspective of their experiences. Never has that evidenced itself than now.
more to come…