Gifts My Parents Left Me

Mom and Dad wedding day, 12/29/50

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
—Kahlil Gibran

Sheridan Lynn, 5
I remember a gold flecked crystal bowl, a painting that hung on our dining room wall forever, the Barbie I received in elementary school, the first time I was allowed to drive the one and only family car, a giant pumpkin costume Mom crafted for me and my first flute, but beyond the tangible, there are so many other gifts that I understand now were left for me by my parents. The stable home, the home cooked meals, the family walks all roll back to me. Since they are no longer here for me to hug and whisper thank you, I share these gifts they left for me with you.

In order of the importance they bring to me now:

  1. Piano lessons-at age 5 I walked before school one day a week to take piano lessons with Mrs. Sikorski. I loved her handwritten notes on my music and the colored stars attached to each piece mastered. I still treasure those piano books and am so grateful my parents afforded me lessons through sixth grade! That gift led to high school band, college choirs and immeasurable friendships ever after. Music is with and in me everyday!
  2. Sharing affection– a hug, a kiss, a squeeze, a nod, a wink, a compliment…we are never too old to receive and reciprocate.  They gave, as do I. (Yes, they were also tough and often said “No!” )
  3. Never give up– Dad kept a sign I made him on his workbench, WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE TOUGH GET GOING. I guess I had heard that so many times it got immortalized. Whether the Scotch-Irish roots or tough parents, it resounds with me when all seems lost. Mom always said we were MISS AMERICA women and could succeed at anything!
    Dad and Mom
  4. Challenge-take the extra steps, push the extra mile, tryout for the next seat, attend the camps and practices, take on a new role, do better than the person next to you. Don’t dwell on past laurel,. move on and make new ones. If you don’t know how, figure it out! Maybe that’s where the sense of lifelong learning now springs forth in me.
  5. When a Job is Started, “Finish it!“- whether washing dishes, cleaning up after hedge cutting, washing inside AND outside of a car, practicing a piano piece and on and on…
  6. Spirituality-while I remember lots of grumblings about being rousted out of bed for early Sunday church services, the power of believing in a world larger than myself, in seeking prayers as solace, in love and faith greater than ourselves is with me daily. My faith makes holidays more special and memories of meals, laughter and family even more special.
  7. Dancingcould my parents dance so elegantly and gracefully with one another! Once my dad took me in his arms to dance around the living room floor, I grew up and tried to keep up! I miss those dances.

I am curious if my brother and sister, or son, have similar or different gifts from these my parents left for me. It is never too late to say thank you for those gifts, for they make me who I am today, for better or worse. Leave a comment about gifts you treasure from your parents.

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11 Comments

  1. Very nice tribute to Mom and Dad and I agree with all of them but I don’t remember being called “Miss America” of anything! But they COULD dance and I love to dance! I also am thankful they cut me loose. Pretty much after high school I was on my own. They trusted me to go to Nagshead to work (8 hours from home and before cell phones) And, although Dad wrote the check for college tuition and they saw my college grades, I was left to figure out relationships and disentangle my own messes. Tough work but I learned through it. I learned to sew from Mom and cook (mostly Oatmeal cookies with girlfriends who spent the night). And I recall while Mom was washing dishes, she drilled me in the multiplication tables! I am a whiz at those!!

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    1. I enjoyed reading all your comments. I know your Dad was so proud of you all. He frequently told stories and always with a gleam in his eye. Reading these comments prodded me to think of my up bringing and how my parents guided me with patience, love and direction. They made sure we were in church every Sunday morning and at youth fellowship every Sunday night. I learned about hammers and such from my dad and even how to wash the car professionally!!! I learned sewing, patience and wisdom at the kitchen sink as I dried the dishes. I also learned to budget my 25 cent allowance. I was “encouraged” to pay my way from my meager nurses salary from my first job as I lived at home for a year. Little did I know they saved these $ and gave it to me as a wedding gift at the end of the year. The memories are many and thanks for reminding me to remember and to be thankful.

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  2. Yet another opportunity for my sisters to get me to do something I don’t necessarily want to do! I guess I’d better thank my parents for having them. Lord knows they have always been tortured by their little bro. The following things are not always material; my parents gave me memories and a value system and security that I didn’t even know I needed!

    Mom taught me about love, it may have been the first thing she ever said to me, and she said it all of the time. In fact it was the last thing she said to me in her final moments “I love you.” I know it sounds goofy, it is true.

    Mom taught me how to treat women: how to open doors, how to walk on the outside (next to the road) when escorting a woman, watch your mouth (I flunked this one), always let them go first. These rules have stuck with me for life, I still do them as directed (except for my incessant and incorrigible mouth). Mom, never one to shun a little corporal punishment, used to beat me with a fly-swatter when I needed it. We both knew I had out grown the flyswatter when the little wire handle would bend and the intimation factor became zero…she switched to a wooden yard stick that worked for a bit until they kept breaking…then, alas, “wait until your father gets home.” When Dad came home from work and was informed of my latest infraction, Mom would protect and defend me from his post work stress relief program. Mom and I still talk.

    Segue to Dad: I can’t remember Dad ever physically threatening the girls, even with a flyswatter, I wish he had. When I pulled some stupid SNAFU or the other he would demonstrate the, inherited art of snapping his belt while walking down the hallway. Some way or the other he could fold over the belt and pop the leather parts against each other making a terrible cracking noise, psych-ops.

    Dad taught me how to be a man. First, by example, then by challenging me mentally and physically. He would push me until he knew I was shot. He had no hair but instead, had a hair trigger. He had quite the temper and was very intimidating. Dad was a football nut and an attend college freakizoid. From my first football and helmet at the age of three or four, through sandlot, high school and my recruitment to college, he supported and prodded me all along. My knee was destroyed in my senior year of high school, no more football, colossal disappointment #1, I flunked out of college once (or twice, can’t remember) colossal disappointment #2. He didn’t teach me how to deal with colossal disappointments very well.

    He was also one of the funniest and kindest men I ever knew. He wasn’t a joke teller but he had really quick wit, was funny sarcastic, and could do imitations so bad as to be hilarious. Also, he could sing, the man could carry a tune. Dad and I still talk.

    Most of these things I learned and adopted, some of them were modified to fit the 80s and 90s. I hope my children will pick and choose as they see appropriate for themselves and my grandchildren. These gifts are not so tangible but they are richer than a brand new bike! MGB

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  3. Sherry:

    A very nice, thought-provoking post. Tom is on the phone with his mom now. So many little gifts our parents give us….

    Xo, Steph

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I treasure my parents lack of prejudice in my upbringing….not always true of parents from their generation. Thanks for the post Sherry.

    Bill

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