There are days when depression threatens to engulf me and I feel like giving up.
At such times I remind myself of my roots, of the long line of survivors who did not dream of giving up.
Early ancestors of mine, facing death and starvation, migrated to a new country. By the grace of God and through grit and determination, the good Earth rewarded them richly with its bounty and a better life. The offspring of these pioneers, my grandparents, struggled and survived under the most primitive conditions. Observing them, I learned many lessons in patience, humbleness and frugality.
All of their lives, my parents accepted any kind of work, no matter how difficult or demeaning it was. They loved me with a love so fierce, they would rather starve than see me go hungry, and they would not have hesitated to forfeit their lives to keep me safe. I learned early about unconditional love. Would I not erase my ancestors’ sacrifices from my heart by giving up?
My husband loved me and his son so much, he spent most of his working years struggling with a well-paying job that he disliked to provide us with a comfortable lifestyle. Not until he retired did he pursue the vocation and travels he had always dreamed about. How can I disappoint him now and give up, when he spent all those years making sure my needs would be met once he was gone?
After my husband’s death, it was hard to accept that he was not with me anymore. But I soon learned that he is still with me. A favorite piece of his music, a book, or an ethical or religious issue will bring him ever so near. His love of nature, a favorite dish or animal has become a part of me because they remind me of him.
When I think of the closeness my grandmother and I shared, I realize that part of her will always be with me. I cherish those lessons in gentleness, kindness, and patience I learned by her example. I must pass on those wonderful lessons while I still can. It’s too early to give up.
I admire my father’s hopefulness, when there was no reason to hope; his courage to fight for his life when it would have been much easier to give up; his work ethic and the many sacrifices he made for his beloved family. I can’t give up before fully experiencing this same tenacity for life. He instilled in me a love for the Earth, plants, and flowers. When I marvel at the beauty of a new blossom, he is with me. He is part of who I am.
My mother and I have always been very close: first out of necessity when the war separated us from my father. Later we became close by choice, because she looks to me to take care of her now. She saved my life many times in the early years. Her caring ways helped me keep my sanity when the world around me seemed insane. She taught me faith, courage, trust, and patience. I must not give up for there are too many lessons to be learned yet.
I have learned about joy, honesty, hopefulness, and wonder from my young granddaughters. There are so many things we must learn from each other yet.
I can’t give up because God has never given up on me. God is woven into the fabric of my family’s legacy and is still molding my life. I feel blessed by all the loving people who were and still are part of my life. Every day I am in awe of God’s creation: a butterfly resting on a blossom, a bird winging in the sky. Every moment I am aware of God’s presence in me and all around me. Every new day is a gift, an opportunity to share God’s love with someone. No, I shall not give up!