Was There Something in Your Youth or Childhood…?
I was finishing that question with “…that caused you to get cancer?” I was mistaken. The question was, “Was there something in your youth or childhood that prepared you to be able to handle this challenge in such a remarkable way?
During a brief pause to collect my thoughts, the tune from The Sound of Music came to my mind. “…somewhere in my youth and childhood, I must have done something good….” I don’t think it would have come up so quickly had it not been for the fact that Eden Prairie High School was performing that well known musical and my great niece, Kristin, was playing Mother Superior. (As an aside, if your mind goes to aging voices, warbling through “Climb Every Mountain”, think again. A beautiful, full, young voice brought a catch in my throat and tears to my eyes with this song. It was memorable. But then, I am her godmother!)
So how did I answer that question? I recall saying, “Perhaps being from a large family of strong, independent people who didn’t always have an easy life gave me some preparation. I really don’t know the answer.”
After some pondering here is more of an answer. I have experienced numerous narrow spots in my life. Any “preparation” is a result of paying attention during those narrow spots.
Being from a large family, without abundant resources; we were told that if your worked hard and stayed out of trouble, life would pretty much be easy. This established a certain set of values and expectations that are still part of who I am. I no longer believe that statement to be true, but it is an interesting starting point. Our life was not easy, but we did more than survive – we thrived.
Perception is the key. I did not perceive my life to be daunting or undesireable. There were certainly times when I compared my life to that of my friends, wishing I had what they had or could do what they did. Covetousness is a sin, but it is also very human. I am very human. I learned early that I would have to earn my own money if I wanted to give Christmas gifts to family members, take piano lessons or to go to camp. I don’t recall thinking that was a terrible hardship. It was simply something I had to do. When I went to college, I had the same dilemma. My parents wanted me to go to college, placed a high priority on it, as a matter of fact. But they had no resources to provide me with an education. I earned money to pay for my education at the University of Minnesota.
So was there something in my youth or childhood? The answer is yes. There was faith, hope, tenacity, perseverance, persistence, passion, patience and grace. Life was not easy, but it taught me to pay attention.