Born on the Fourth of July

The fourth of July has always been a time of remembrance, celebration, patriotism and a time for families.

The title of this post can be taken back to a George M. Cohan song,”Yankee Doodle Dandy“. It can also refer to the movie adaptation of the biography by disabled Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic.

The day reminds me of family and in particular my father.  He was born on July 3, 1914. and passed away this past Christmas.  He experienced a great deal in his life.  Although I always thought him older,  He was only 37 when I was born.  He turned gray prematurely.  I just have always thought him bigger than life.  Historically, he survived a lot.  He had a  strong personal constitution more than anyone that I know and a much stronger resolve.  His first job was about 8 years old.  He worked in grocery stores, delivered bread for Wonder Bread.  He was a natural people person and took to sales easily.  During his active years he represented many furniture manufacturers and traveled throughout the Mid-South.  He was very much the family oriented dad.  He was involved in church, scouts and  swimming.  He tried to be everything to everyone and tried to provide for us in the ways that he thought his father would have provided for him.  His father passed away in 1922.  His mother was a school teacher .   He had a brother and sister.  He was like so many of his generation he rarely talked about his childhood and left us with so many unanswered questions.  My cousin has pursued our family genealogy and it has been both fun and interesting to read about his family finds and to add-on to it as well.

Rarely do I find intact families in my practice.  Kids are brought in by step parents, friends, grandparents, guardians, adopted parents and foster parents.  Often detailed histories are not available.  It is different but somehow the same as it may have been 100 years ago.

Now there are no orphanages.  We have social agencies.  Now there are no natural illnesses disrupting families but only drugs and social disasters.

Before it was primarily economics and health like the flu pandemic of 1918 and the yellow fever outbreak, now it is crime and drugs which breaks up our families.  Mental health is a primary problem with no apparent easy answer in sight.  Mental and medical care providers are not trained to deal with the multiple factors which impact the members of our society who can not pay for their services.  Individuals do not network and do not have the personal resources to help themselves.  The often do not have the personal or spiritual foundation to pull themselves up.  Even our spiritual guides can not deal the stress of their position well and even our political leaders do not have the honesty to speak forthrightly to their constituents. 

We must look back 2,3 even 4 generations for integrity in leadership.  Look to our grandparents as true role models.  The 60′ and 70′ style of parenting left a gap of leadership which we are seeing today.  I hope the next generation of parents will show more maturity. 

I enjoy my families.  They are eager to be parents and eager to learn.  It is hard for them to see through all the advertising and hype.  What is the right thing to do. Who is the real expert.  The internet is a confusing place to get our information.  The press can also be biased.

Read and search out diverse opinions.  Be well read but read what makes sense.  Then seek out the counsel of someone with experience.

My personal experiences growing up shaped me, as did my inherent temperament.  I may not be the best at what I do but at least I care.

I am not be the most religious person but I have a strong faith and try to stay connected with my God. Our kids all have strong values and personal beliefs and we know that we gave them a strong foundation on which to build.

I remember church every Sun sitting in the front pew usually 9:30 mass.  Often brunch afterwards.  Then swimming or just being home afterward.  5 brothers and 1 sister.  We had a menagerie of personalities.  I always say that I got the worst of both of my parents.  It is interesting to see how personality types can issue from our family tree.  Our kids and other relatives dismiss our impulsive comments as that’s just a Chiles’ comment.  But you cannot totally disregard the historical perspective from which our reasoning or impulses come from.

My parents found a great deal of their personal strength in each other and in their faith.  Something that I see missing in my younger families.

Most people do not weather their life experiences well .  Let alone the early passing of a parent . That required a strong and resolute mother .  The loss of three children. Two of my brothers and my sister.  My sister had facial malformations and severe developmental impairment which were devastating to my parents. They did not talk about her disabilities.  They had the ability to move forward and to continue to trust in God and family.    Again some thing that I see lacking today.

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