Twenty-eight years ago, when I was in graduate school, I wrote a paper about the role my family played in establishing the values I had developed throughout my life. In going through some old files, I found this paper, and in reading it after all these years, I am amazed how accurate and true to life those words are today. When I wrote this, I was working full-time as a critical care nurse, married, and my two sons were in college. Here are a few excerpts.
“One of the values I have always considered most important is the sense of fidelity and commitment. This began with my grandparents, whose marriages were arranged in Italy by their families. So, the value of the importance of a closely-knit family has always been a major presence in my life. The sense of responsibility is deeply ingrained from my family background. Here again, I have learned that responsibility to family, especially to immediate family (parents and children), is very important to me. Another value which grew out of this sense of responsibility is the sense of caretaking and nurturance. Both of my grandmothers lived with us near the end of their lives, and were cared for by their children. My mother, being at home, had the largest part of the responsibility, the way I perceived it. It is interesting to note that her mother, who was orphaned at the age of fourteen, took on the responsibility of raising her two brothers and her sister in Italy. I’m wondering now how much this part of my background affected my decision to become a nurse, something I wanted since I was six years old, and now, also a counselor, two of the so-called “helping professions.
“Since all my siblings are brothers, and I am the only girl in my immediate family, I feel a stronger sense of responsibility, to be the one to take care of my parents, when they are older and cannot care for themselves. I’ve always seen the women in my family to be there to take care of things.
“Both my parents provided the encouragement for myself and my brothers to become educated, and always the emphasis was on being happy, in the careers we chose. This has always been a significant factor in further choices I have made, that being not to sacrifice happiness for less important things, such as money, status, or material things.
“I am fortunate not to have experienced in my life meanness and ugliness in the forms of abuse and lack of love. I don’t think I realized until I became an adult how lucky I am to have grown up feeling wanted and loved. My family is very important to me, and I hope I have a lot more years to enjoy them.”
As many of you know, I have been blessed to have my parents all these years. They recently celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary, and are the best examples of a loving relationship I know. They dress alike and do everything together. They are now 94 and 95, and my dad has been taking good care of my mom these past couple of years. I was amazed he could do it but he insisted he was managing.
Three weeks ago, my dad called me and told me he had come to a conclusion. He was done driving and he decided it was time they leave their home in Naples and come to live with me. I know that had to be a hard decision, but he knew this was always an option, when the day came.
So now they are here with me and we are settling in. Me, Richard, Mom, and Dad. My goal was for them to be safe and happy, and so far, it seems to be working.
Those words I wrote so long ago were true then and are true today. Family is everything, and although life will change a lot now, I consider it a blessing to have them here. It’s great to hear them laughing again without the stress of trying to live independently and trying to help each other, when their health made it impossible. In my Dad’s own words, “I can’t hack it anymore.”
I am so grateful he made the decision himself and my mom is happy too. Not everyone has a loving family, or the ability to count on family in times like this. I am fortunate to be retired and have space in my home, and have Richard as a loving and supportive partner.
Family is more important than anything else and there is no guarantee how long your family will be here. In the meantime, I hope to make use of the time together in every way I know how. Both my parents took great care of me as I grew up, and now it’s my turn to take great care of them. I may be writing more stories about them as I find humor in some of the things they say and do. Stay tuned.
I’m always interested in your feedback, so please leave a comment.
Have you checked out my books on Italy or my two novels yet? Learn more here: Books by Margie Miklas