“Resilience is rooted in a tenacity of spirit—a determination to embrace all that makes life worth living even in the face of overwhelming odds. When we have a clear sense of identity and purpose, we are more resilient, because we can hold fast to our vision of a better future.” ~ Author Unknown
I received a letter today from my oldest sister. In this letter she reflects on how fortunate I was to inherit the gift of practicality and resilience from our late mother. Our mother saw, in the first 25 years of her life, so much more than many of us have or will ever see in a lifetime. She survived WWII leaving her homeland of Romania at the age of 18, never to return. Bombings in Poland (where she fled a theater moments before a bomb wiped the building off the radar), raids in Austria, then moving throughout Europe until the war ended and she arrived safely in Trieste, Italy, with her younger sister in tow. She fell in love with an American G.I. They married and had a child (my oldest sister) in Italy. The army sent my father home due to illness leaving my mother and sister alone in Trieste. They joined him months later arriving by boat on Ellis Island in 1956. I don’t know, but, it seems one might have no other choice than to become practical and resilient in times like those.
Being the youngest and most obnoxious child of the brood, I’m flattered and honored that I remind my sister so much of my mother. I’m not sure if it was nature or nurture, but, somehow I do believe I took on my mother’s sense of practicality; but, more importantly her tolerance for life and people. Resilient, I’m not so sure.
Fast forward to mid December….the last two weeks of 2011 brought brain cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and ovarian cancer affecting members of our family and close friends. I’m still standing and, believe or not, smiling some times. Am I super(wo)man? No, not really. I’m muddling through and being the person my mother taught me to be. Optimistic, hopeful and helpful whenever possible. Perhaps it is because I learned very early in life to embrace the good, turn away from the bad and try not to let the ugly get in the way. Still, I find myself, sometimes, struggling with my own resilience to the hurt and pain caused by the insensitivity and mean spirited-ness of some people. Insensitive, intolerant and, well, just plain mean people still exist. Nine and a half years ago I got the gift of my mother’s spirit back. This little being came to us with the most amazing spirit of kindness, understanding of tolerance with a keen sense of resilience. Where this perspective and resilience comes from I do not know. What I do know is that I am blessed to have her near me, to remind me of what is most important and often offer perspective that goes way beyond her nine little years.
Do not think that we are only here to teach our children. We are also here to listen and learn from them. I wish you all peace, love, happiness, tolerance; but, most of all, resilience in this new year. Be safe. Be well!