...We might as well dance....

I was looking on my "social networking" site today and found that a good friend had posted a letter about enjoying life as it occurs, rather than waiting for "someday" and "when the time comes." The last line was: "Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we're here, we might as well dance."

This reminds me of my father, who passed away 9 years ago. He was a larger than life kind of man, gruff on the outside, but tenderhearted and kind on the inside. He loved his family with all his heart. When I was a child, Dad always encouraged my siblings and I to live our lives with enthusiasm. His motto - not unique to him, but he made it his - was to run into life, arms wide open. "If you fail," he would say "fail with everything you've got!" As we would leave for the day, he would always say "Hit it with exuberance!". His prayer over us as we left on a trip, or went back to college was "Lord, give them a song in their hearts, and a spring in their step."

Dad's young life was certainly not a party. He had a very tough upbringing, little money, little hope for education beyond high school. But he managed to earn a college degree, and was a very successful businessman. He and our mother welcomed the unlovely, sometimes the unlovable, into our home. As a neighbor and friend, he went the extra mile - mowing his neighbor's grass because "...my mower just kept going right into your yard...", encouraging those who needed a kind word, sharing in grief when a friend lost independence during illness.

His crowning achievement, he believed, was his family. On his deathbed, he whispered: "I am a blessed man. I have a wonderful wife, and a three wonderful children. They are all living a good life. I am so blessed."

It is my parent's example that made it possible for me to see every day as a gift, and to look for the silver lining in every cloud. I believe parenting our son would not have been possible without the example I saw lived out every day of my parents' lives.

Funny, but my husband's family is very similar, with similar stories of rising above circumstances to make a good and productive life. Alan has overcome obstacles, and made the most of every day, a smile on his face for the smallest achievement. Character is molded every day of our lives by our response to the challenges we face.

I am thankful for my parents...they decided to dance. And so have I.


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