Lighting a candle for Dad brings a smile from the memories

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We lit a candle for Dad. Something Sister and I have been doing for nearly 40 years. Like Mom, we were taught to light a candle on the anniversary of their death, each and every year.

You might think that after this long, it would be much more traditional than emotional. But alas, that is not the case. Remembering our parents often brings on a heavy heart, no matter how many years have passed.

We know they did the best they could as parents in a world where they found things hard to understand. But no matter what, they were always there for us. Our Mom always tried to make sure we had everything we needed, even though we clearly remember that she only had two dresses. One of them always seemed to be on a hanger drying after she washed it by hand.

Dad always tried his best, which was often short of what we needed. We remember going to school with cardboard from the detergent box inside our shoes. That was the only way to cover the hole on the bottom of the shoe. Lord knows we did not want a hole in our socks. We sure didn't have enough socks for that!

Through all the tough years growing up, we always did manage to have fun. Lots of laughing, even when there was certainly nothing to celebrate. Speaking of celebrating, Sister and I do not remember having birthday parties when we were little. We did not really expect them.

In the world of today, when children grow up feeling entitled to everything, we are OK with that. We know our parents would have surely given us more if they could have. So often we wish they could be here to see the achievements of so many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but we continue to share the memories with those who remember. And tell the stories to those who don't.

My mother often said that each generation seems to do better than the one before. I see a lot of truth in that sometimes. But then again, it seems so much harder just to do better. Raising kids as a single mother was not an easy job when I was still a teenager. Thankfully, we had a large family, and someone always seemed to help out during the most difficult times. As we get older and begin to think more of our own mortality, the memories seem to get more vivid. No matter how many things we forget about yesterday, we can still look at an old black and white and remember the day it happened.

In this world of electronics all around us, school shootings, and those who use the "single mother" phrase like a defense in court, I so wonder what they would have to say about what has happened to people. Everyone is so busy they often don't have time for a real visit, but instead rely on electronic communication, even though it means you can visit by phone, and actually see each other without having to leave the house.

We live with the good and the bad, and hopefully we still have much more good. I know we can't change the world, but what a gift we are given as children. Memories that make us smile and time to look back at the old black and white photos and remember. Not all of us are blessed with a happy childhood.

We can decide to use it as an excuse to fail, or just choose to become a stronger person in spite of it.

Rest in peace, Mom and Dad.