August 18, 2014
Family Isn’t Dead
Everyone has problems, and sometimes problems have a way of multiplying as we grow older. Worries heaped atop other worries, and those on top of physical issues. Despite that, I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world.
I grew up in the most loving family I can imagine. And we lived in a neighborhood that I still think of as the greatest place on earth to raise a kid. It wasn’t just our family. It was a neighborhood of working-class people, many of whom were descendants of immigrants—Irish, Italian, Polish, and others.
This neighborhood and the values that we were raised with find their way into some of my books in the friendship & honor series. In my other series, the entire theme is, La famiglia é tutto—family is everything.
But this post isn’t about books.
This Is About Family
I often worry about where this country is heading, mostly due to what I see as the lack of values in the younger generation—values that were infused in us when we were young. Read the news on any given day, and you’ll be appalled at the stories of things kids do to each other, and to themselves. It makes me wonder just what is being infused into the younger children. It’s depressing to read article after article of bad things happening, so when I run across a good story, especially about a young person, it makes me feel as if there’s hope.
I ran across just such an example recently.
Tim and Mike Ferrier were good friends of mine when I lived in Cleland Heights. Like many of the families at that time, the Ferriers had a lot of kids and they made sure the kids grew up in a very loving family. Mike sent me a poem that his granddaughter Rosalina wrote for a school project. I was so impressed, and so moved by the emotion, that I had to share it. The title of the project was…
Where I’m From
I am from a comfortable family,
Not a lot of money, but enough.
I am from the old brick house on South Clifton Ave.
The one that you couldn’t see until the old oak tree was cut down.
I am from the red rose bushes in my Grandfather’s garden,
And the old bird’s nest on top of the fan outside.
I am from the nickname Rosalina given to me by my Grandfather
And the many stories that go along with it.
I am from sun blankey and my yellow sunglasses
That were used when my Grandfather picked me up from school and the sun was too bright.
I am from a Grandmother, who helps me to be the person I am today,
And I wouldn’t have made it where I am today without her.
I am from the family with a million cousins
And plenty of hearts ready to help.
I am from a house that gets packed on Christmas Eve
And has many Italian foods ready to eat prepared by Mike and Marie.
I am from the world’s cutest puppy named Marilyn
And two younger sisters that make me want to pull my hair out at times.
I am from one true best friend that no one could ever replace,
Also known as my Mom.
I am from the brown hair and blue eyes
That comes from my Great-Grandfather.
I am from a small city where everyone knows my Grandfather,
And an even smaller neighborhood where everyone knows each other.
I am from the pizza and Chinese food that my family eats on special occasions
And the birthday cake that has a 0 candle on it no matter what age you are turning.
I am from a family where stress is overcome by love
And problems are worked on together rather than on your own.
I am from a loving family, who cares about everyone,
That would do anything for anyone at anytime.
Rosalina, whose real name is Lindsay Tucker, is 15-years old. This poem is from her heart, and from her experience. You can’t make this up.
This is what family is all about.
What strikes me most about this poem is Rosalina’s self-awareness. “Where I’m From,” is a broad topic for a teenager. I’m sure many of them wrote about their neighborhood, or their city, or even about the country where their ancestors originated.
Rosalina dug deeper than that.
She has an awareness that most adults haven’t learned to recognize, much to their detriment. Rosalina seems to realize, even at this early age, that who she is, the person she has become, is a result of her family and her surroundings.
I am so happy for Rosalina, because I already know that no matter what life throws at her, she’ll do fine. She is a very lucky girl.
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He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”