Monday, May 27, 2013

On Memorial Day, recall the past that shaped the now

Me and the brothers, the product of all our ancestors.
The generations that came before us had pretty interesting lives. I look at my mom and dad's growing up years and mine seem really tame!

My Mom's parents - my grandparents - were children when they came over from Czechoslovakia on a boat. Both of my mom's parents died before I was born and I'm sad I didn't get to meet them. But they had some traits I'm certain I see in myself and my son today.

My mom's dad was an electrician, a smart, short man who great up in the famed Hell's Kitchen. Wow! Much rougher than central Kansas, I'll tell ya that much. He also had to quit school in fourth grade to go work in the coal mines. That work led to death from the black lung in his 60s.

I wonder if my mechanical engineer brother, his studying-mechanical-engineering daughter, my self-taught-computer-programmer brother and my I'm-going-to-be-an-inventor son are displaying his electronics-engineer aptitude these days.

Her mother was a kind, sweet, patient, loving woman who was very ill. She died at age 32 when my mom was 11. She had a heart condition and was told that each child would take 10 years off her life. She still had 3. The last one was my mother. Chills.

I wonder if the compassion I try to teach Brady and which he seems so readily to pick up, came from her. We try so hard to see all life - even the tiniest ones - as precious.

My Dad grew up as a sharecropper's son. They had to work hard at an early age. I see that work ethic in each and every one of my siblings and in myself. We have all always worked and always worked hard.

My Dad has had three careers: military, recreation management and car sales. I've had four, LOL, journalism, science, cake decorating and now internet for our small business. In addition to the above mentioned brothers, my other retired from the Marines and is a successful communications salesman. And the nieces? Wow!

One just joined the Army and is embracing it full force. Another has her own golf-tour/golf-drink business with her husband. Another is a full-time nurse in Wichita. And the last is the one studying engineering.

And I already see it in Brady. Brady's upcoming 2nd grade teacher asked his 1st grade teacher the other day, "Does he have trouble focusing and getting his work done?" To which the 1st grade teacher said, "No, not really. He gets his work done without much prompting."

He loves to work. He tells me that. And he loves tests. He loves his homework. I see my Dad and my Dad's ancestors in that.

My Dad's family also had a farm. I recall my grandfather selling watermelons off the back of a truck. And now three of the four of us kids plant gardens.

Goodness I wish I could look into the past and see who went before. Who were the hardscrabble, intense people that must have led to my family's existence? We're all very unique, very driven. Our roots lie in  Czechoslovakia, England/France and Native Americans.

Brady needs to know these things. I haven't been good about telling him. Who was in your family's past that shaped who you are, who your children are? I think it is so important for kids to understand what came before.

There were people who sacrificed, worked, followed their passions and passed on their beliefs and way of life just so we could be who we are. Tonight, our talking stories will be about those who came before and how they made us who we are today.

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