The four people who shaped my soul
Written in Spring, 2006 at the age of 16 for a school assignment
I believe it would be impossible to broadcast my spiritual beliefs without first telling the story of my life and the people who raised me. Those people crafted my spirit. I have no original ideas and no revolutionary doctrines. I am simply a mixture of the strengths and weakness of the people who affected my life- they unknowingly shaped my soul.
My family lived in Norway for twelve years, but I only for the last three. We came to America in late 1992 to live with my mother’s father. Living with my grandfather, Gordon, I had three adults to answer to.
Now I mentioned that I lived with my grandfather for ten years. He was the strongest “man of character” in my childhood. His style of dealing with children was stern. Gordon was a highly educated veteran of WWII and had a “prepare the kids now” mindset. He and I got along best when we watched the evening news together. I would observe him exasperatedly cruse at the projected politicians on screen. He demanded that we children have chores and that we keep the house the clean. He used his booming voice to insure that “everything was ship-shape”.
His program of chores was character building. By age ten, I could already chop logs better than must children and I had done my fair share of home repair jobs, including independently painting a porch. His work regiment helped me become more self-reliant and confident in my own abilities.
Now that I speculate on the matter I really must thank him for giving me such a sense of self-reliance.
Gordon did much more then give me chores. He was my history guidance councilor. His teachings about WWII and the “bastards” in modern politics to this day can be seen in me – if you ask me the right questions. Gordon being a veteran instilled in me a respect for veterans and reverence for the elderly. Gordon was a well-educated “Princeton man” and he imparted in me a curiosity for history. He gave me one piece of advice and told me to live by it forever – “don’t do it”. He was a masterful satirist.
Gordon was a Thomas Paine man. He was “a man of reason”. His favorite book being “The Age of Reason”. He never actually told me that he didn’t believe in God. In closing, Gordon taught me to respect those who had lived longer than I have and to respect those who had fought in war to protect me. He gave a sense of self-reliance. He is one of most valuable benefactors to the creation of my soul.
My father, my fickle father gave me some of the qualities that became the support columns, I built around my soul. My father and I have an unconventional relationship. He worked away from home and came home on Fridays and left for work on Mondays until I was about eight. Then he worked at home until I was about 11. Then he began moving all over the country for work and only returned on weekends.
During my childhood my Grandfather replaced my father as my daily male role model. Starting at age 12, I feel my father and I connected better. He gave me a realist outlook on the world. It was his solid nature that helped me cement my soul into place. He gave me an appreciation for art and music. He taught me the importance of trying to do my best. He gave me the resolve, I will need to survive in a world filled with growing confusion.
He was so similar to my mother in one quality that I must have learned from both of them. He sacrifices continuously. He gives up his intentions and his pride to better the life of his kids. He was so devoted to his children that, in the most unconventionally of ways, he gave up some of himself to help us in a time of a need. I remember his sacrifice and I wish that I may never have to banish so much of myself to help my children, but I know that if I must I am able to. I can not easily explain to a stranger the relationship I have with my father – it is ours and will remain that way.
My friend William Thomson Barron the IV was a benefactor to my soul a specific way. Tommy although under heavy pressures from life has always been generous. His entire life he has shown me the power of generosity. Even as an angst-filled teenager he was able to show the power of generosity. As a toddler Tom’s got a brain virus and he had to relearn everything. He re-learned self-reliance to a level that some adults can’t match. Throughout his life he was given challenges that made him a grateful and generous person. When I catch myself being generous, I see it as a reflection of his influence on me.
My earliest and must influential benefactor was my mother. She has sacrificed everything to raise her children – this is more than I could do for her. My mother was always there for me every single time I was sick, hurt, or lonely. She taught me to cherish nature and the stars. In the summers my mother would take her children to my grandfather’s cottage in the woods of Massachusetts. There she taught me to enjoy the benevolence found in nature. She taught us to cherish that rare sense of unity that manifested whenever my family went to the cottage. My mother definitely was a supporter of cherishing what it is you love and fighting for it no matter what must be sacrificed. This quality she gave me, may seem to the naked eye as stubbornness, but it is actually a protective nature that she instilled in me.
She was the first person in my life to ever love me from Sept 24,1989 until the day she dies, she will love me. She gave a portion of her heart to me and I’ m thankful. I model my love after hers – she gave me the blueprint. I will pass it on to my own children. I would be blessed if my children had a mother as wonderful as I had.
In closing my Grandfather gave me self-reliance and a sense of respect for others. My mother showed me how to love and to cherish that which I love. My father gave me the firm mold that shaped my soul and he showed me the power of sacrifice. Tommy showed me the power of generosity. The people who have affected me – sculpted my soul.
I have become a hodge-podge of these values. I am a prime example of the phrase “Tell me who your friends (family) are and I will tell you who you are”. I have also taken the flaws of my benefactors, the Catch 22 of receiving a spiritual gift. I am a solid, stubborn, protective, loving person.
Thanks to you all.