As I approach retirement I look back through my life and see a few things that really amaze me.
One thing I know is that if I fell into step and did not break the pattern of family tradition I would be non-educated, non-productive and most likely view life with the expectations of handouts and entitlements. I find it so strange that I can easily remember so many circumstances where one little turn or decision would have made a huge difference in my life.
My mother left me with her girlfriend (my surrogate mother) after I was born. So for the first four years of my life I was in a loving family environment with a mother, father and grandparents. At least that is the way it appeared to me. At the age of four I remember this women, my biological mother, taking me away in a taxi cab. I recall crying for my mother and her slapping me saying she was my mother. I did see my surrogate mother again about 10 years later. She offered to pay for my high school and college education but my mother declined.
I wonder now how my life would have differed with a private high school and college education. I struggled in school and had to work so long and hard to get above average grades. Years later I discovered I had a reading disability, hence the struggle. I had no academic support at home as it stood once I made it to the sixth grade I had surpassed my mother in education. My brothers and sister fell way below grade level and gave into family tradition and quit school as soon as they could.
So proudly, but silently, I graduated from high school and went onto full time employment. I endured a couple more years with my mother as she drained my paycheck weekly announcing her entitlement as I was not legal adult age and could not leave home. At the age of 21 I moved out of her house forever.
I never realized how miserable I must have looked all those years until the Vice President of the company I worked for tagged me with the name Miss Sunshine. I quickly learned that I did not have a smiling face so I actually had to smile so people would know that I was not angry or sad. Smiling, hum that was a new found characteristic for me. Turns out, it is one of my best features .
As the years went by I found lots of things to smile about. I went on to earn my college degree at night and continued to climb the ladder of success in multiple careers. I still amaze myself. I accomplished so much and often wondered what was the motivation for me. Why was I so different than my brothers and sisters. I strongly believe that I discovered at an early age that I never wanted to be like My Biological Mother. Perhaps that is all it was, determination and survivorship. I am so grateful to my surrogate mother and her family for the good foundation they gave me in the beginning of my life.