I claim to be a Firework (see I Am A Firework blog November 1, 2010), but for my parents – I am just a sparkler. I can live with that because I know they love me. Even though they cannot always appreciate my burst of colors, they have always acknowledge my sparkle. I am the man I am today largely because of their support even when my extreme decisions have challenged them. My parents a very conservative, religious, Fox News watching, Republicans and they do love their moderate, spiritual at best, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Democratic son.
I know they have questioned how I became so different in my way of thinking. It is because they always encouraged my sisters and me to seek answers. My sisters, for the most part have followed the same path as our parents. While they can accept on nothing more than faith that the decisions they make are the best decisions, I have to try to research, study, and learn to find my own answers. We have learned out of necessity to tolerate each other’s differences despite that we no longer understand how each other thinks, feels and lives so differently. One thing we may forget is that I am standing as stubbornly on my decisions as they do theirs. This is the example they set for me. My Dad always repeated the saying, “You have to stand for something or you will fall for anything.” We need to remind ourselves that we are both standing for something even if our “somethings” are completely different. I know I often struggle to remember this.
My parents also taught us that nothing was impossible if we set our minds to it (they enjoy using clichés). But my mind aways worked a little more diversely, so my impossibilities were even more adventurous than they would have ever imagined. Trying to make the impossible – possible became a challenge at which I embraced and excelled. My parents have had limited travel experiences compared to their children because when we wanted to see the world… we literally went to see the world outside of our beloved Pike county. For me, to the point of living in another country.
We learned what it was like to have support in the decisions we made. They sometimes knew we were not making the best decisions but knew we could even learn from mistakes. We had support even when things were not our decision. Few could have more family support than I did when diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). When I decided that Colombia was an easier climate to live with my MS, even though they may not have liked my being that far from home, they supported me knowing my health was at stake.
They may not have taught us to speak our minds as much as they set that example. There are umpires and referees that will also testify to Dad’s speaking freely about a missed or bad call on a ball field or ball court. Now we all feel we can speak our minds and like many politicians and activist groups, we feel only the loudest gets heard.
Land was Dad’s biggest asset and he sold (at a very reasonable price) that to my oldest sister so she could build a house and live close. My other sister has gone above and beyond by taking care of Mom & Dad with helping cook, clean, keep up the yard and even chauffeur; will get the family house and the land on which it sets. Someone asked, “What will you get Thomas?” The only answer I had to give was I already got my inheritance. I got a free spirit that feels enlightened because even when I am not a beautiful firework show, I am a fun little sparkler.
Thanks Mom & Dad – I love ya!