“There are so many times I think of things my parents taught us. My mom was big on manners. When we were young, she would often read a book after dinner called ‘White Gloves and Party Manners.’ (For entertainment value alone – you should get this book). There is a girl on the cover holding white gloves (see photo) and I remember my oldest brother coloring them purple. There was only one copy and, at the time, four kids, so a few years ago for Christmas we ordered four copies so we all had a copy of a book we would never forget.
We all knew how to set a table correctly and to never pass things across the table — always to the person next to you to pass along to the person making the request. This rule was instilled in me when my brother, sitting across from me, asked for the ketchup and it just so happened my mom was between us at the head of the table. I reached in front of her and I swear, like a ninja, my knuckles were cracked with her fork. Lesson learned! Ahhh… the good ol’ days!
More importantly than learning manners, we learned an important way to live our lives. We learned if we don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it. We learned to never send or say things to someone when you are angry. We learned to never argue with a fool because a bystander can’t tell the difference. That one got me sent to the office when I was in high school after an argumentative teacher tried to engage me and I responded with that line. He was furious, and embarrassed, because the class started laughing. I headed to the office (where they knew my name) and I stood in the principal’s office. He asked why I was there. I told him. He tried not to smile. He had me sit in the waiting room and wait until my class ended before sending me on my way. I still use that line to this day and will begin it with, ‘My dad always taught me…’ it usually ends ‘conversations’ rather quickly.
We were also taught about patience. I remember a time I was frustrated with someone and my dad pointed out to me the many reasons that person may be angry or upset, and it may not have as much to do with me as I thought, but instead, with battles they may be dealing with that I don’t know about or understand.
We were taught there are two sides to every story and not everyone is going to love us. That was a hard one for me because I am a people-pleaser. To this day when I am upset because someone didn’t like something I did or said, I remember those words and try to move on.
My mom taught me the importance of friendship. She would tell me that if I had three true friends, friends I could tell anything to and know my words would be held in their heart, I should consider myself blessed. I thought she was crazy. I had tons of friends (when I was young). As I got older, I have learned the truth to her words.
Another important lesson they taught us, which has been proven over and over again, is this: Never give anything to anyone with strings attached. Whatever you give, consider it a gift. They taught us to do for others, and when you do, you will find things come back to you tenfold. I have been blessed beyond my highest expectations and I truly believe it is because I have tried to live my life following these words of wisdom.
Last but not least, my parents taught us the true meaning of love. Love that is there through hard times and good times. Love that is shared with family, with friends, with people we meet, with people that seem unlovable. A love for community, and a love for each other.
As I close my eyes and rewind my life, I realize the care, respect and moral support (she was his biggest cheerleader) my mom gave my dad as we were growing up. Now, watching my dad care for my mom, I realize love is the most powerful, the most exhausting, the most incredible way to live your life — from beginning to end.
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