Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Random Childhood Memories

Unfortunately, I have no pictures of me or my family as a child but there are some things from my childhood that have definitely shaped me. Thanks, Mom & Dad.

Do It Yourself (DIY) - When something needed to be done around the house, we kids helped my dad do them. I was the oldest, my sister was 14 months younger and a brother came several years later. We did yard work, cleaned out gutters, painted, replaced roof shingles, mixed cement and built retaining walls. I once thought it was really cool that a concrete block was like a sponge and watered one until it got so heavy that we couldn't pick it up. Oops! I take pride in being a mostly DIY person but now let Dave do all the heavy lifting (as well as the laundry :-). He does not like heights anyway.

Exercise - I remember seeing my dad do sit-ups in the morning and walking briskly to/from the bus stop or BART station (about a mile away) on weekdays. Being a former gymnast in high school, he could also do pull-ups and pull-overs on horizontal bars, handstands and flips that put us kids to shame. I've always wanted to be in good enough shape to do the things that he could do. Maybe some day ...

Independence - My mom didn't know how to drive, had no friends and her English skills were limited. When we got sick or injured at school, she'd walk over to pick us up and we had to walk home then take the bus or a taxi to go to see a doctor, if necessary. If something around the house was broken/new that required reading instructions to fix/use, she often had to wait for my dad or the kids to help her. She made me want to be very independent, and I still hate going to see doctors.

Money Matters - Despite her limitations, my mom was a good money manager. I remember her clipping coupons and using an abacus to balance the checkbook to the penny each month. We rarely went shopping except to buy groceries, other necessities and Xmas gifts. A couple times a year we went out to eat as a family to a shopping mall food court, which the kids loved because, one, we could ride the escalator and, two, get a variety of tasty dishes. I am also very careful about saving and spending. Even Taco Bell is a treat when you rarely eat out.

Making Cutbacks - My family of 5 lived in a modest house with one bathroom. Sometime during the late 60's or early 70's, California had a major water shortage. For many weeks (months?), we had a very restrictive bathing schedule, were saving bath and laundry water in order to flush the toilet and using water from washing fruits & veggies to water plants in our yard. I'm not sure if every family went to such extents to conserve water but I know cutbacks can be made, not only in water usage but in a number of things, when times get tough.

Outdoors - Fishing was the number one family recreation for us. It was simple: grab the poles and tackle box, get or bring some bait (digging for worms was a blast!), and head over to either Berkeley Pier or Lake Chabot. We rarely caught anything worth eating or taking a picture of but loved spending hours trying. I love the outdoors and really don't need much to enjoy myself.

Hard Work - My dad always used to always tell us how he washed dishes to get through college. He graduated with a B.S. in Nuclear Engineering and later attended Stanford to do some graduate work. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to tell him before he died how proud I was of his accomplishments but am grateful he taught me to work hard to achieve my goals and not expect help from others.

Competing - All throughout school, I was expected to bring home "A's" and to be one of the top students. I started taking lessons in keyboards (accordion then later piano) at age 7 and competed in a big Northern California Music Festival every year until I was about 16. The desire for perfection and to be one of the best is very ingrained in me but as I've gotten older, I've realized it's not good to always be like that. It's a work in progress.

33 comments:

Wendy said...

This was a very nice post, Shirley.

ShirleyPerly said...

Indeed, I didn't appreciate my parents much when growing up but now realize how much they gave me. The thank you was long overdue

Gotta Run said...

Enjoyed your post. Makes me think and reflect on my childhood.

So why do you not have any pictures?

Stef said...

I love this post Shirley! When I think back to how my parents raised my brothers and me I am very very grateful!

Thanks for bringing this to the forefront for me it was inspiring.

jen said...

Great post Shirley. I can identify with a lot of your experiences. It's interesting to see how much the way our parents raised us affects our values today! I bet you've made them proud. :)

Petraruns said...

I really like how you reflect on how your past has shaped you and how you try to take something from it to use in your life now. Much of how we behave and react is so ingrained into us we rarely think about how that pattern of behaviour came about - you are trying to unravel these things and it is very interesting, revealing and ultimately, very good for you.

As always - and I keep saying this - you are inspiring..

Wendy said...

It's a beautiful photo, too, Shirley.

RBR said...

What a great post! I don't have any childhood pictures either. My parents have albums of them, but I never asked for any either.

It sounds like we had similar values instilled. I never appreciated it until I started teaching. Now, boy, I wish there were more parents like mine.

Tammy said...

Great post, I love the picture of your parents, it's always nice to get or find photos of our family. I too do not have any pictures of my parents of the past or from my family. I have recent pictures but not to many older one. (I would say the last 6 years or so)

And yes, living back in the late 60's and 70's was so different than it is today. Yes 4 girls 1 boy and two parents with one bathroom... Yep know what thats like Hee Hee.

Shannon said...

Sounds like Mama & Papa did a great job raising a wonderful inspiration named Shirley.

Thanks Mom & Dad!

X-Country2 said...

This is great. One of the benefits of blogging is getting this kind of stuff down.

Smithposts said...

Wonderful post! Your parents sound like they put in the work to make it work, even in the toughest of times. Thanks for sharing your memories!!

WADDLER26.2 said...

Loved the post. Thanks for sharing the photo of your parents.

Susan said...

Love it. Very honest. You know, a lot of people don't appreciate their upbringing until they're older, which is often a shame. I think you're very lucky to have seemed to appreciate it at the time as well as now!

Road Warrior said...

What a nice way to get to know even more about you. I can see how your parents have helped shape your way.

From the picture, I can see where you get your good looks. Quite a beautiful family.

Spokane Al said...

That was a very nice look back and brought forth some memories of my own.

Those were definitely different times.

L. said...

What a terrific story, Shirley. Makes me think of my own parents and how much they sacrificed for us kids, though, of course, we didn't see it at the time. Your mother is beautiful, by the way.

Calyx Meredith said...

Beautiful reflection. Thank you for sharing your insight on who you are and how you came to be that way. I've always loved my parents, too, but more and more now I see how much of what I like most about myself is a direct result of who they are and what they did for/with me.

Bruce Stewart (施樸樂) (ブルース・スチュワート) said...

That is a great photo of your parents. You know, one of the reasons why I like learning languages is that you get the opportunity to speak to people you could never speak to if you can only speak one language. At some point I will do a post like this. I did a few similar ones last year when I unearthed some things I had kept from my childhood. Anyway, I think you have a lot of talents and I hope they don't get forgotten about because of being too focused on one thing.

Karen said...

I love your post--so similar to the way I grew up. The pic is cool too.

Marathon Maritza said...

I love this post...it totally made me start to think about all the wonderful things I got from my childhood. (That I, of course, don't really appreciate until now.)

Thank you, this memory-lane trip was so wonderful and really insightful about you. I'd definitely say you are a strong, independent woman! :)

KodaFit said...

Amen to all of the comments above. It also made me reflect on what I'm doing as a parent to help my children get the most out of life.

Probably better take the little monkeys fishing this weekend!

The Alien said...

What a great post!! Having a Gymnast dad should have been the coolest thing in the world!!

Rural Girl said...

It never ceases to amaze me how much we are shaped by our parents' values. I hope I am doing the right things.

Sunshine said...

Thank you for a lovely personal story. Yes, that does look like a wedding picture.. sweet.

It is hard to grasp just how much our parents did for us, I think.
A majority of parents do what they can for their children. Clearly yours did. Example and lessons have served you well. Yea Shirley!

Don said...

I saw you working hard at the Zoom! Yah! Yah! Marathon. You put the hammer down in the last miles. Nobody does that! But you sure did. Got that from both dad and mom I bet.

peter said...

Nice memories. Afterwards we come to discover what we took from the parents, it's always a lot.

COTY said...

Great post!
I can relate. Very touching.
There was 6 of us in a 3 bedroom 1 bath very small living room and tiny kitchen. It made the outdoors even more appealing...

akshaye said...

Shirley, that was such a great post.

I always think that for so much of the good in us, we owe a lot to our upbringing.

Fe-lady said...

Very nice post about your parents...I hope they are still around and read it!

Girl on Top said...

Parents are so awesome!

Vickie said...

If only the kids today had this type of upbringing. The world would be a different place--rely on yourself, work hard, excel. I'm sure there is a lot of that out there, but the majority now seem to expect something for nothing, or something at someone else's expense.

jeanne said...

those are some terrific lessons your parents passed on. You're one inspiring lady. And what a lucky kid to have had such role models.