Count Your Blessings. I can't remember how many times my mother told me and my brother and sister to "count our blessings" when we were growing up, but it was a lot. We knew that we didn't have everything we wanted as kids, growing up in a divorced single-parent family in Hammond, Indiana during the 1950's and 1960's, but we learned to be grateful for what we did have and that was lovingly and sometimes painfully driven home by my mother.
My mother and uncle were raised by my grandmother, whose husband was murdered on the South Side of Chicago when my mother was three and her brother was one. My grandmother raised my mom and uncle by herself during the depression and they did just about everything to keep from losing their home and each other. They took in laundry, cleaned houses and eventually my grandmother got a job at the Steel and Wire Mill on the South Side, where she worked until having a stroke in her sixties and dying at 66 when I was 10.
My father, a World War II US Navy veteran returned from the war, married my mom and had three children. He was a good man who was damaged by the war. A machine gunner who had all of his teeth knocked out when his gun was jammed into his face during a conflict. He started a trucking company when he returned from the war by buying one truck at a time. A driver owner he was starting to make some headway when tragedy stuck and two of his three trucks were involved in accidents. The insurance company would not renew his insurance and his business failed. Some men may have been able to overcome these challenges and set-backs. Unfortunately, my father was not one of them. He always had a weakness for alcohol and chose to bury his sorrows in a bottle and abandon his family.
My mother, on the other hand was tough. She stood by my father far longer than many women would have; seeing him through two trips to the hospital to "dry out". This is when I learned about delirium tremors, the DTs she called them. The last memory I have of my father was on an afternoon when he called the house. I picked up the telephone, I couldn't have been older than five or six and I remember talking to him. My mom took the telephone out of my hands and proceeded to read him the riot act. I never spoke with him again.
All during this time and up until my mother died in 1987 at the age of 62 she always reminded me to look at the "good things" in my life and to "count my blessings". She would tell me about my grandmother's family that immigrated here from Slovenia and how they had to learn a new language and make a new home for themselves in America. She told me to be grateful that I had the opportunity to learn and go to school and to work hard and "make something of myself".
My mother often told me that no one was going to give me anything and that if I wanted something, then I would have to set my mind to it and work for it. She used to say, "Get on the ball...the one that bounces!" That was her way of telling me to get up and get going and make something happen.
When I think about what is troubling America these days, I think about my mom and I know what she would say to America. She would say, "Count your blessings America! You are still the greatest country in the world. You still have your land, your people, your energy, your enthusiasm and your dreams. So, dream big and get on the ball...the one that bounces!"