Friday, August 13, 2010

Children Learn What They Live.

It’s the end of another long busy day. I am in the living room straightening out the girls’ toys when Sarah comes up the stairs from the basement. Sarah says “today or yesterday was your mom & dad’s wedding anniversary?” I think for a moment. YES . August 12, 1950 is the day they married. Sarah continues to tell me that my mother got a bit weepy yesterday during her visit with the girls. She was telling the girls’ other grandmother that her and my dad would have been celebrating their anniversary yesterday. I stop what I am doing. I breathe.

My dad passed away over seven years ago. I think about my mother and how she misses her husband - as much today as she did the day we said good-bye to him.

This summer has been fun. The summer has been busy. This summer has been exhausting. Our lives, at some point, continue on after the passing of a loved one. Do I forget about Dad, do I forget about Abigail? Do I forget about Julie? My heart and soul remember. Their spirits are alive – some days brighter than others. I do not forget.

We call my mother “Ma” (or “Mah” - insert Boston accent). It breaks my heart when I think about what it must be like for Ma. Ma and Dad were married for well over 50 years before he died. My dad wasn’t able to see me as a parent. But, hopefully my mom sees the valuable lessons they taught us about marriage and parenting. My mother had a poem hanging in the kitchen when I was a kid:

Children Learn What They Live (By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.) :

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

I would be hard pressed to recall a time when my parents fought or argued. They raised thirteen children (on one income for most years) and my dad always found money to take us on vacation or the beach, or for an ice cream treat. The values instilled by their actions are priceless. Thank you dad. Thank you Ma.

Last night, when Sarah told me how Ma was missing Dad, I got mad at myself. The anger was out of forgetting their anniversary – not remembering that yesterday may be a tough day for Ma. And then I thought of Abigail – it’s been weeks since I’ve visited her at the cemetery. Do I forget? I do not forget. My heart remembers.

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