It was fairly easy for me to identify my own personal childhood web, and I probably could continue to add to it with people who still come to the top of my mind as making an impact on who I am and how I grew to develop as a person – I can think of teachers, family friends and more that have truly left their mark beyond the five I initially list here.
For me, looking back on my childhood, the only way I can describe my mom was selfless. She worked part time in a really family oriented job so that she could be there for my childhood, raise me and never need to put me in child care or with a babysitter. She was there to fill my day with experiences near and far, really cared about educating me and giving me academic experiences at home so I can learn and grow, and held me to high expectations. She built me into the independent and confident woman I am today.
Today, my mom’s influence continues to impact my adult life in the many aspects she developed in me at a young age. She taught me to strive for perfection, be confident with myself, be creative, know my strengths, stand for what I believe in and be independent. All of those are the foundation of what kind of woman I grew into and make me proud to be who I am.
My father has given me a unique perspective on life. While my mother is strong headed and taught me to be firm, confident and speak up for myself, my father has taught me how to be level-headed, big picture oriented and hardworking. As a father who frequently had to be away from home for work, he always did his utmost to provide for us and be there and a willing participant of life outside of work, even when he was tired.
As a Army Paratrooper, then returning home and joining Law Enforcement, being brought up in a family environment that caught all that spilled over from the brotherhood my dad has with his coworkers and peers has taught me a lot about loyalty. These people were as much a part of our family as anyone else – always at our house, would do anything for me as if I was their own daughter…I am tride and true loyal, value and believe in traditions and have a true understanding that family goes far beyond blood and I think that much of this comes from my father’s example.
After spending my youngest years growing up in Southern Pines, NC, there came a time that we brought the family home to the Lehigh Valley, PA once my younger sister was born. In such a huge move for us, my parents made a lot of sacrifices. My mom could no longer stay home most of the day to be with us and my dad had the same old Law Enforcement schedule he always had. Moving back up to PA was also financially hard on the family, and so we moved in with my grandparents. My Pop Pop spent most of my youth as my primary caregiver. He was able to retire at a younger age than most, and while my parents were either sleeping or working, and my grandmother was off at work too, he cared for my sister as an infant and myself through all of my formative years up through elementary school.
I lost my Pop Pop almost a year ago to heart disease and diabetes, which was truly heartbreaking to me. In the past few years, as his health was declining, I truly realized what an impact he made on my life. He was grouchy sometimes, but it was charming. He was particular and very organized and compulsive, but I definitely get those traits and all of my sass from him. Even today, I am meticulously organized and have the same attitude towards many things that I think my Pop Pop would. We always were the ones who rolled our eyes at a family argument, or joked about how serious everyone was taking life. Since he’s passed away, I continue to be eternally grateful for the huge impact he made on me as a person.
As I described above, we lived with my grandparents in their house for many years before my parents could afford to buy the house they live in today. My parents turned the basement into their room and apartment and my room was right next to my grandparents. Though my Gramma worked far longer than my Pop Pop did, my Gramma was just as involved in my childhood as he was. Even before we moved back up to PA, I would spend summers with my grandparents going on tremendous adventures all over town.
My Gramma involved me in everything and taught me a lot about patience. We would garden together, catch lightening bugs, sew, cook and bake. Many of those things are still hobbies I have today because she taught me them at such a young age. Moreover, she is always selfless – sometimes to a fault. She cares about providing for her family members more than herself and it is a trait that I hope manifests in myself as an adult. I am grateful for her to still be in my life after losing my Pop Pop and hope that we can give back to her after she has so selflessly given so many things without question to us.