The Lessons of Family

The Lessons of Family

I am a very lucky member of a large, conservative, hard-working family of strong Catholic and Protestant faith.  After a boisterous St. Patrick’s Day get together, I’m inspired to write an essay about the lessons I’ve learned being part of such a big and diverse family.  When the present challenges of our country, which is seemingly mired in selfishness, entitlement, and subjective morality, are almost more than I can bear, they are lessons that I turn to and am grateful for.

Lots of Lessons

The patriarch (Papa) and matriarch (Nana) of this clan instilled into each of their 8 children (and consequently, their children’s choices of girlfriends, boyfriends, spouses, ex-spouses, the grand and great-grandchildren, and the motley crew of friends that we include as “family”) the values of life, love of family, liberty, and individual responsibility….these were the uncompromising cornerstones of this family.  When Papa and Nana married and started a family, they had no money, but they never stood in any welfare line…they worked incredibly hard, raising their big family, gradually finding success and security.  They did not EVER compromise ANY of their bedrock values.  They did not whine or blame others for hard times.  They just trusted God and worked harder and smarter.  Their church and their family was all they relied on.  And, their love of God, family, and our country has blessed us all with immeasurable bounty….beyond anything “successful” measured by today’s standards.  And even though Papa is gone and Nana has been heartbreakingly taken by Alzheimer’s, we do our best to carry on their traditions.

This is what we’ve learned: In my family, we help one another when times are tough and look after the ones that need encouragement and support.  In my family we can fight amongst ourselves (like any family), hold grudges and wage small vendettas, but when the chips are down the loyalty to one another is fast, fierce, and uncompromising.  In my family we are loud, proud and apologize to no one for our beliefs.  We know the only way to truly “succeed” in life is through hard work, good choices, and staying true to core values…with a bit o’ luck of the Irish!  In my family we adore and cherish our babies and children and cannot and will not accept the idea of abortion as any kind of solution for any kind of “problem”.  In my family we have children with challenges and special needs and do not treat them as anything less than a gift from God.  In my family we have veterans and active military servicemen and we honor and respect them.  In my family we stand for the flag and cover our hearts.  In my family we bow our heads and thank God for every blessing.  In my family we laugh at each other and hug when we meet.  In my family we make mistakes, we cuss, we argue, we tease, we drop everything to help, we divorce, we re-marry, we grieve loss of child and spouse, we find new loves and the “old” loves grow deeper and stronger, we welcome new members, we judge one another, we gossip about one another, we cry for one another, we fight for each other, we love one another, no matter what – this is us.  This is my family.  Imperfect, yet wonderful.  Family.

These imperfect things we all do, within our own families, no matter or large or small, regardless if your family is defined by “blood” or by your closest friends…they are all part of big lessons…how to accept one another, how to love another, even when you are hurt or infuriated by one another.  God’s love is perfect.  We are not.  I’m just grateful for MY imperfect family.  I’m inspired by them and they all make me want to be a better person.

Thank you, Papa and Nana.  Your family loves you.


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1 Comment
  • Beth C says:

    What a great tribute to your family! You really are blessed to have such a warm, passionate, loving family – especially these days when it seems like such families are becoming a rarity. Wonderful!! <3

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