Today I'm feeling grateful that I had parents who could have afforded to buy me the moon, yet I secured a work permit and had an after school job at the age of 14, mostly paid for the things I wanted with my own money, and was handed nothing on a silver platter. My parents were my parents, not my BFFs, with very clearly defined expectations, rules and boundaries. I learned how to respect all people, regardless of their race, religion, sexual preference, political views, economic standing, relationship status, career choices or intelligence level. I learned that there are things in life we don't want to do but must, and therefore to slap a smile on my face and do what needs doing. I learned that who we are when no one is watching is who we truly are at our core. They taught me that if we wish to better our world, we should simply act, not spend time telling others of the great things we have done, for humility, in and of itself, makes the world a better place.
My father's death, far too soon, taught me that life is precious and short. It was an opportunity to reflect on what's truly important, which led me to the conclusion that to live with gratitude for what we have, not mourn that which we do not, is one of the keys to fulfillment. His death taught me that anger is a wasted emotion, being judgmental makes no one unhappy but oneself, and that taking out on other people that with which we struggle never makes us feel better; instead it generates guilt and, perhaps self-loathing. It reminded me to celebrate the unique gifts of each person whose lives we touch and who touch ours in return.
People often tell me I am "lucky" to have children who are considerate, respectful and compassionate. Typically, I would write "luck has nothing to do with it; raising nice kids is hard work"... and it surely is... but I realize now that I am lucky because I learned how to instill these qualities into my children through the living and dying examples of my own parents.