Vantage Points

Day 6

Advice Your Parents Gave You That Stuck

“Always give back,” said my mother. I couldn’t understand for the longest time how my mother could give to others without a second thought when we ourselves (as a household) were struggling to scramble for change during those early days when we lived in a one bedroom apartment on West Grey St.

Our apartment itself resembled more like a rustic slave quarter for it was clustered in geometric position with other tenants as well elevated on a clay platform. The area itself was also shaded heavily with Pecan Trees extending 130 ft in height. If that doesn’t scream Colonial-era housing — try looking for streets paved with bricks.

More importantly we lived right on the edge of the federal poverty line. Mom and dads both worked as laborers for companies that seldom left them time to relax. It was difficult for them to leave my sister and I at home. Therefore my older sister was placed in a ‘I Have A Dream’ Program after school while I was in the care of numerous friends, relatives who lived in our little barrio as it came to be known later in years.

I’d like to think I was a well behaved child, but often people will come up to me today and say what a nightmare I was. I was too curious for my own good. I often pretended to be a chemist and would go through various storage spaces looking for toothpaste, shampoo and bath oils to stir together in a sink or toilet bowl. I would also get my little hands on women cosmetics and look for lipstick to paint the walls. I also on a instant chicken ramen diet. Go figure.

I also wonder how many times my mother or father had to make apologies for my misbehaving. However they were glad to do it as well. My father would bring bags of ice from work and give them to anyone who didn’t have fresh water. Mother would often buy baby formula or diapers for my babysitter then who was expecting twins. These exchanges continued for years amongst my parents and babysitters until finally in 2000 we’re able to buy a house in the suburbs.

And still I think about those days when we locked ourselves in the living room for it was the only one that had air condition. I think about the many times we were at the neighborhood clinic because the apartment was making us sick or how my aunt would take us on vacation when our parents were too busy.

Finally, I realize how lucky I am to be living in comfort when many are still having a difficult time supporting their families in the most basic sense. For this reason it’s important for me to practice compassion and help anyone in anyway possible. Thanks mom, dad and friends along the way for keeping me humble.

 

 

 

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