There have been a vast number of lives that have touched mine. Many different people have shared a piece of their soul in my formation; it is impossible to pinpoint a single person who was the most influential. However, I have come to the conclusion that no one has given as much as my parents; in all the highs and lows of family life I have observed them. I was home schooled all through school and so my life revolved around home and family for my most formative years. As a result, I have acquired many of Mom and Dad’s strengths as well as assimilating some of their weaknesses.
Dad was the fifth of eight children, and grew up on a dairy farm. He has a passive personality, yet is very opinionated. One thing in which I particularly feel his influence is my love of books and learning. In our home, there have always been many books. When my siblings and I were little, Dad would read us a story every night—it was a highlight of our day. I remember listening to Rootabaga Stories, stories of Uncle Wiggly and the Littletails, the Little House on the Prairie series, and many other such books. As I grew older, there were fewer story times; but they have been replaced with frequent conversations with Dad about what I have read.
My Mom came from a small family with only one brother, so the exuberant and rambunctious behavior of my siblings and I often exasperated her. Mom was my first teacher. From her I learned how to get dressed, brush my hair, get dishes clean, sweep floors, do laundry, change a diaper, and care for toddlers, as well as all my elementary school subjects. Because Mom has given us all her strong will, there have been some conflicts; but a great part of the everyday guidance in my life has come from her.
There have been many special moments that I have shared with my parents. In high school, I enjoyed one-on-one time with Dad in the drive to and from Confirmation and drivers education classes. As we worked at companies that were about a block from each other, I also drove to work with him a couple of days a week for more than a year. It was a blessed opportunity to talk about literature, faith, culture, and a variety of current issues. Late nights have been my time with Mom. Sometimes we shared a cup of chai tea, sometimes a near-midnight snack, but many times were just spent in conversation and laughter.
My parents gave me life not only in the natural sense, but also spiritually. At my Baptism, they took on the responsibility to educate me in my Faith, and I received my first “taste” of faith through them. When I was about six years old, we began praying the rosary together as a family. Attending Holy Mass has always been a priority. Although it has not been possible to attend daily Mass, my parents have always made sure that we attended on Sundays. While growing up, I had both the example of my parents to show me what was right and their prayers to help me remain faithful.
There are many little instances of how I have been influenced as my personality has developed. It is an awesome fact that even the mere presence of a person can touch you in such a way that it forms the innermost parts of your soul. My parents have been such influences; always there, always touching my life, continuously contributing in silence to the person I am today.