I really like the idea of conducting your own annual self-review which I first thought to do courtesy of Chris Guillebeau. So on October 30th, one month before I intended and after having lost power in my apartment due to Hurricane Sandy, I started my first annual self-review while my apartment was still lit by natural daylight. Overall, I consider 2012 to have been a good year for me personally, though there are areas of my life I still need to work on, and it sure as hell wasn’t a good year for some very important people in my life.
I’ve recently started to think a lot about my relationship with my parents. Earlier this year, I had developed a somewhat deep resentment of my parents – my father due to his raging alcoholism (despite having terminal cancer) and my mother for always having put up with his abuse, never standing up for herself, and basically not emulating a woman with self-respect. I started calling and visiting them less and less.
About a month ago, I read a book called “Make Every Man Want You” by Marie Forleo, which is really a book on how to live in the present moment (something I still really need to work on). In it she talks about how she used to think that she had a mildly abusive childhood based on the way her parents disciplined her, but then later came to realize that that was an idea developed in the mind of a bratty teenager which she carried into adulthood, and that limited idea was holding her back from experiencing life in the present. She realized later that she did not truly understand the complexities of raising a child, that she probably drove her parents absolutely nuts, that she in fact had a very normal upbringing and thank goodness that her parents raised her the way they did otherwise she would not be the woman she is today.
Despite all my father’s rages, he’s very rarely ever missed work, even now that he’s so sick that he can barely swallow water. When I was younger he would take me to the mall because I wanted a new outfit and would actually shop with me even though he would be absolutely bored out of his mind. He bought me flowers the day after my first ballet and tap recital when I was 9 because I cried when all the other girls got flowers after the show but it didn’t cross his or my mother’s mind to get me any. He and my mother bought me my first computer in 1997 (a Packard Bell, 1 GB hard drive, 16 MB of RAM) which cost them the equivalent of 3 week’s pay. He and my mother paid for most of my college expenses out of their life savings even though I could have taken the loans out and paid for everything myself. He’s always been very self-conscious about his English and his very thick accent and I think has always felt flustered by the fact that no one seems to care or truly understand him, including me.
And now he’s dying.
I’m sorry to say that only now am I finally beginning to realize how much, how much, he and my mother sacrificed for me, without ever so much as asking me for a show of gratitude.
I may never get a chance to finally express how much of what they have done for me has helped me to become the woman I am today. The woman who my father actually said to me earlier this year that he’s so proud of.
My mother never left my father’s side, no matter how he treated her. My mother married, moved across an ocean to a foreign land where she didn’t know the language and had no family and friends, and had a baby within 18 months’ time frame. She’s worked, kept a home, and helped raise a kid while largely feeling isolated and alone. She would take me to the doctor every time I got sick (which was pretty often back then), and always waited with me in the freezing cold for the bus to take us home and back. She cooked dinner every night and well-intentionally made me eat every bite of it. She and my dad always brought me to Portugal every 3 years or so despite how much weeks’ pay a vacation for all of us would cost. She’s always hated being so far away and isolated from the rest of her family, yet never once turned her back on me or my father. It was hard to raise me – I didn’t always do what I was told and always fought back. Yet she’s sacrificed her whole life, cleaning houses to help support her family, and she’s also never asked for so much as a show of gratitude.
Shame, shame on me for only now realizing everything that my parents have done for me.
Time is running out for my father and I don’t know if I’ll even be able to begin expressing my gratitude to him while he’s still around.
My mother will be the one I’ll be worrying about. What will she do after he passes on? Now that I’m all grown up will she finally be free to go back to Portugal like she’s been dreaming of for years?
And with me, I still have my whole life ahead. Do I go ahead and follow my heart to Sydney and open up so many possibilities for my own life, or do I try to repay the eternal favor to the people who I owe my entire life and existence to?
I hope that the decision I make will be blessed by the two people who I basically owe my life to.
I am so glad that I am finally starting to realize my gratitude for every ounce of sacrifice and sweat my parents have shed for me to have a better life than they had, and I’m super grateful for every single life experience I’ve ever had which has brought me to this very moment.
I just hope that the remainder of my life can only begin to make my parents proud and that somehow I can repay them for the all the sacrifice. I’m so sorry for the delay and I hope that somehow I can make all the effort up to you.