My father died a number of years ago. Our last years were strained and distant because when I became a single parent, he was quite vocal about the fact that my children would be better off if I concentrated on my career rather than changing my goals to raise them. By the time I learned to understand and forgive, he was gone.
For years after his death, I lamented two things:
- The time I had wasted being angry with him, and
- That he never saw me succeed; he never had a chance to be proud of me.
These laments served for a long time as a drain on my emotional and relationship resilience. At times of adversity, when needs were dangerously close to exceeding resources, these laments would often tip the scales robbing me of the ability to stave off disaster.
As time past, I learned that my father had spent his last years bragging about my accomplishments and how well I had raised my children. I discovered through those who knew my father far better than I that he was most proud of the fact that I had made a new life with a wonderful woman and built a family while rebuilding my career. He had never told me any of this.
Now I have adult children and I look at the resilience they draw from our relationship. Like my father, I brag daily about the accomplishments of each one of them.
My daughter Victoria who has enjoyed success in every professional endeavor she has attempted from boutique sales (first sale totaled over $10,000) to bartender (nightly tips regularly exceed $300) to graduating from college 2 semesters early and soon to start her doctorate in education. In addition to work and school, Victoria is a belly dancer who donates her talent at local charity events.
My younger daughter Tiffany has made a success of her part-time garage band, taking it from the amateur stages of local bars to the main stage at music festivals and charity events in only 18 months while maintaining excellent grades and working in the promotions department of a radio station. As if this were not enough, Tiffany makes time to help her cousin find his way back to school and to his family.
My son Nicholas has just received his Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. While it is no mean feat to accomplish this while still in the 6th grade, he studies at the training school for the 5 time Florida state champion Tae Kwon Do team. Last week he was honored by being promoted to Instructor at this studio. Like his sisters, Nicholas also donates his talents on both his school and church choirs.
My youngest child Christopher is the joy of the family. His contagious smile and never ending fountain of happiness and love brighten even the darkest day and ease the heaviest heart. It is impossible to look at him and not smile, then laugh and feel better. He is a straight “A” student and despite the fact that he is 3 years younger than Nicholas, will test for his Black Belt in just over one year.
My loving wife Laura is my support in my dark hours, my trumpeter in my golden hours and my greatest fan at all hours. It is incredible how Laura can keep up with a household full of children, me and her own career as a prison doctor. For that matter, I don’t know how she does her job at all! She is as amazing as she is beautiful.
My mother Jean is a true force of nature. A nurse for over 30 years, a business woman who has run several businesses and the mother of 6/grandmother of 16, “Mom” is the matriarch who challenged each of her children to be better. She has always believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself; not because she is blinded by love, but because she sees in me what I could not… greatness.
I write this not just to brag about my family, but to say,
Thank you for being the source of my strength, even though you think I am the source of yours.
Thank you for being the light that pierces my darkness, even when you look to me to light your path.
Thank you for being the port in my storm and the strong walls of my home so that I can shelter you when you need me.
Thank you for being the greatest source of my emotional resilience and relationship resilience because without you I could not stave off disaster.
I don’t just write this because I need to say it; I wrote it because those I love need to see it. My father bragged to everyone about me except me. I never knew and I spent years wishing I had made him proud of me when he already was. I want those I love to know I am proud of them now. I want them to have the emotional resilience and relationship resilience that comes from this knowledge.
I also write this so that everyone who reads this knows the power and importance of saying “Thank You” and “I’m Proud of You” to the ones whom they hold dear. The gift of resilience is the only gift greater than love, because it comes from love.
I write this so that you learn to give the gift of resilience.