Over the years, I have heard numerous stories of how my dad made many sacrifices for our family. In fact, we have all laughed so many times because of the inside jokes that we share. Before my brother and I were born, my dad switched jobs several times until he ended up in a single career for the remainder of his working days. Things were tight financially, but my parents made the best of what they had. When we came along, it added pressure to the family budget.
Dad became a surveyor, which was a great fit for him because he enjoyed being outdoors. One day, an opportunity came along that offered him higher wages, although it meant he would have to drive a lot farther to work. Not only that, but it was located in a much more congested city, which meant the stress of driving in bad traffic. I do not remember him complaining, although he may have. However, I do remember him not being around when I woke up on those cold, drizzly mornings because he was already at his job.
One of the interesting things about being a surveyor is that it is double sided, like a coin. On one side, surveyors can enjoy the fresh breath of air and warm sunshine. The other side is a disaster, with exposure to rain, severe cold, and other harsh elements. One of the jokes we laugh about so much today is about his old boots. Back then, it was certainly not a laughing matter. We lived in the north, where the winters were particularly cold. In one of his earlier jobs, he had secured a pair of steel-toed work boots. They were great for working in a manufacturing environment. However, they were ridiculous when trying to work outside in the frigid temperatures of winter.
As time went on, my growing brother and I required more clothing. The more he had to provide for us meant less for himself. To this day, I remember his clothing tattered, and torn. He used to wear ugly old flannel jackets to keep warm. Back then, I was embarrassed to ever have worn one, even if I were cold. Nonetheless, he wore his worn-out clothes and kept his head up high. What an example he set for his boys! All these years later, I have finally come to appreciate the sacrifices he made for us. In fact, I will always remember them.
But it was not only my father who sacrificed for our family. My mother also played a vital role in our lives growing up. Her sacrifice was the giving of herself continually for our family. She worked tirelessly around the clock so that her family would be cared for. Being a stay-at-home mother is not always all that it is cracked up to be. Men, in particular, seem to think they have it tough when they play the role of provider. What they often fail to understand is the amount of effort and energy a mother uses every day. I can only speak for my mom in saying that, but I know in her case, it was true.
Growing up, we never lived in a brand-new home. However, Mom made sure that the home we lived in was well taken care of. She took such care of my dad, brother, and I, that we never learned how to cook for ourselves. Had anything ever happened to her, we would have been totally lost! To her, it was a pleasure taking care of her family in that way. Eventually, she decided to run a business out of our home. After receiving her license, she opened a cake and candy shop. Again, she worked tirelessly at that in addition to everything else. This time it was to provide additional income for the household.
Although I do not remember every detail, I do have the warmest of feelings in my heart for the times the four of us shared experiences together. Her efforts made it possible for the family to go on vacations and visit places that we otherwise would not have had the resources to. When we got old enough, my brother and I were recruited to be a part of the working class in our home. It was simply too much for one person to take on any longer and we were asked to participate in the chores of the home. Neither of us were the least bit thrilled about working around the house.
I have a memory of my mom, brother, and I working out in the family garden. All of a sudden, my brother started complaining. “This is all Adam and Eve’s fault!” he bellowed loudly. The sweat from his brow introduced him to a concept called work. There was much that needed to be done around the house, but Mom took it a step further. She wanted the home to look beautiful as well. I remember countless hours spent working outside the home, trying to make the outward appearance more pleasant to people passing by. She planted so many flowers, which meant there were always lots of weeds to be pulled. On top of that, I remember Dad digging a huge hole in the front yard. Oh no, I thought, what’s going on now. He brought home a gigantic, plastic fishpond. While digging the hole, he unearthed several large rocks which became an integral part of the waterfall that was set up. Sure, why not, what is a fishpond without a waterfall! All joking aside, it did look great. I saw the flashy magazines with beautiful homes on the cover. It was always my opinion that our home should be on the cover of one of those magazines, at least I thought so for my mom’s sake; she deserved it.
Now when I think about the phrase, standing on the shoulders of giants, I cannot help but think about all the sacrifices made by my parents. They showed by example how to make sacrifices for the benefit of others. Has anyone in your life demonstrated how to give by sacrificing their resources, whether it be financial, time, or service? Have you done so for others? A life of giving is one of sacrifice. The more you give, the more you must sacrifice. The flip side of this, is that it makes you more grateful for the multitude of sacrifices made by others on your behalf. When giving this way becomes a part of your everyday life, you will look forward to the endless possibilities available to enrich the lives of those around you. Ultimately, it will make you a treasure in the hearts of the ones who love you the most.
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