Dear Paul (with a quick edit)

I was thinking about you today.A lot. I know you don’t care for lengthy letters so I’ll try to keep this short and to the point. The way you like it.Pithy,another word for it.
The Gram and Grandpa you knew growing up were my mom and dad growing up and they are probably going to seem like 2 different sets of people once you read further here.
We had a wonderful childhood growing up.The folks were your typical lower middle class* like most families back then. It was great growing up in a small town with most of the extended family in the same neighborhood. We were united by our faith tradition(Catholic)probably more than our economic class. 

They were strict. You didn’t wear make up to school,you didn’t go to the high school dances until you were in 7th and 8th grade. You had a curfew. You didn’t drive their car.I turned into a teen and decided that all this was craziness and infringed on my freedom.

I remember getting “lippy” with mom but you didn’t do it with dad around. He never hit us kids though. All he had to do was raise his voice. Mom,on the other hand,wasn’t afraid to spank us.

I’d had enough and decided these people didn’t know much and I knew everything. I gave mom a difficult time from the day i turned 13 right up until i was in my early 20’s. It might sound strange but i always got along with dad. I honestly don’t think mom and i could stand each other for years.I can’t get anymore honest than that and she was one terrific person who didn’t deserve what i dished out.

Now that i can look back at that time with more self awareness than i had then realized a few things. I was wrong more often than not. I should have shown mom i appreciated her more than i did.

She was doing the best she could do with a very difficult person(moi). When she was sick with cancer and dad was in the first phase of Parkinson’s i tried to make up for all the grief i caused them.
We actually started to patch up our relationship. I wished that i had been a better daughter but we made our peace with each other anyway.In a lot of ways the roles reversed. You end up taking care of them to a certain extent.

I’m not one to give advice since I generally ignored the best advice people gave me but will throw this out here and if you like you can take note-or not(as you wish).
There comes a point where kids are responsible for their own behavior. I was pretty free about blaming my parents for my bad choices-the truth is they were my own mistakes. God gave us a brain.

When we’re 18 and 19,or for that matter 13 and 14,we’re thinking for ourselves;we’re especially responsible for our own decisions at 18 and 19.

It doesn’t matter what you did or didn’t do as a parent. It doesn’t matter what you said or didn’t say as a parent.As much as a parent loves their kids & hopes for the best outcome possible they will be looking at that kid as an individual one day. Mom used to say to me,”you made your bed,you lay in it.” It’s what her mother told her.

The good news is that down the road, said individual(s) will have reached the age where this individual looks back with more self awareness and a little bit of reflection. Said individual will realize how valuable you were as a parent,what you should have meant to them,wish they had listened to you and made better decisions.

What i’m trying to say is hang in there and don’t second guess yourself. You did just fine.Better than i ever did.
Does that make sense? Hope so!

*Back then,people didn’t have television sets. Mom and dad were the first to buy a black and white  set and all the relatives would come up to watch with us. The stations went off the air and played the national anthem late at night. Mom’s favorite show was the Lawrence Welk show. We all gathered around for Bonanza as family.Mighty Mouse was the best cartoon ever. You had to have your day of Captain Kangaroo and Romper Room(values,values,values).We had free cartoons at the theater on Saturdays so they got us kids out of their hair.  Dad was very generous when it came to  buying  all the comic books we wanted to read. The Christmas catalogues were our big wish books but we never got the zillions of wishes we expressed to the folks.

Mom told me i’d go deaf with the record player blasting from my room. She had no idea what the heck I was listening to. We spent hours outside or at the playground in the summers(baseball included,boys and girls)when your great grandma had to yell for us. We pretended we didn’t hear. Mom and dad worked their way up the economic ladder. Dad came from poverty.Mom lived a decent life but they both lived through the Great Depression. They were comfortable in their retirement after saving(even pennies)for years.Remember,people didn’t have credit cards then. You saved or you didn’t purchase.If i wanted to buy the popular records at the time(45’s and LP’s)I took as many babysitting jobs as i could get or i had to count on mom being able to pick out the kind of music i liked. She meant well but it didn’t always go well. Remember,her knowledge of music was Benny Goodman and the bubble man himself, Mr. Welk.

Author:

Catholic.conservative. Pro life.Period.