As I mentioned recently, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting since turning 70. I’m not sure everyone does this, but I’m enjoying it. A lot. It makes me feel that yes, a page has been turned and I’ve started a new chapter. And I like that. I like evolving and learning and looking back and also looking forward. So recently I began thinking about being grateful. No, I mean really, really grateful for the life I’ve been given, the life I built with my own choices and the life still in front of me.
Although I think we’re grateful when we’re younger raising a family, pursuing jobs and a career, I don’t think we actually take the time to understand why we’re grateful. We just are.
But looking back I’m very grateful for the type of parents I had. They were strict with my discipline…..family meal time, getting homework done, regular bedtime, where I went and who I went with…… but they were also liberal in their thinking. They were always compassionate to those to who had less. They didn’t judge. They knew how to forgive.
They also had high hopes for their daughter. Their only child. So I can only imagine their disappointment when that daughter got pregnant her senior year in high school. Despite their sadness, they gave me choices. I could get married. Or I could continue to live with them and be a single mother and they would help me financially and emotionally. In today’s world this might not be so astounding. But in 1964 it wasn’t the norm. One particular classmate comes to mind…..the whispers circulated and suddenly she disappeared from high school. I found out she had been sent to a home for unwed mothers in Maine. She gave her baby up for adoption. How very sad. That was never an option that my parents forced on me. But many girls my age were faced with exactly this situation. I ended up choosing marriage….and that’s a whole other story because it did end in divorce. But looking back, I’m so very grateful that my parents never put me in the difficult position of parting with my child.
Another incident comes to mind where I learned that good people do the wrong thing for the right reasons. Above many lessons I learned from my parents, I think this one is the one that taught me to never judge. I was about 15, my mother had sent me to the small, local grocery for a few things. While I was in there, I heard a commotion in the next aisle and when I peaked around the corner I saw a customer being confronted by the owner and within minutes the Salem Police arrived. I asked another customer what had happened and she explained that he had been caught stealing a few jars of baby food and the owner called the police. I saw him, a young fellow, taken away in handcuffs. I was shaken by the incident, raced home and told my parents what happened. I still remember my dad being angry at the owner. He said there were other ways to handle the situation because someone who was stealing a few jars of baby food wasn’t a bad person. That stuck with me. Both the way the owner chose to handle it but more importantly, my father’s reaction. I’m very grateful for that.
I’m grateful that I grew up in a home where I was taught a love for animals, a love for books, and a love for others. I’m grateful for my heritage….Polish and French. It enabled me to learn my ethnic cultures with food, history and a sense of pride.
Maybe I’m most grateful for when, precisely, I entered the world. Two years post WWII………a time of hope when the middle class was growing, jobs were becoming plentiful, infrastructure grew, a sense of family was important, neighbors knew and helped neighbors, and America was living up to the dream that so many aspired to.
And yes….all of this was a different time, a different place. However, now at age 70, I’m still grateful. I’m so grateful that I got to be a part of all of it.
See you here next time…………