Lessons From My Parents: 100 Shared Moments that Changed Our Lives

Lessons From My Parents: 100 Shared Moments that Changed Our Lives

by Michele Robbins


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Have you ever experienced a moment in your life when you began to appreciate the stories and lessons your parents might have shared with you? Perhaps it was a moment quietly working when your father told you of his painful experience during WWII; or when your mother taught you about beauty while picking daffodils for her neighbor; or when in a moment of tragedy you recall how your parents handled something so difficult with such poise and strength that it helped you go on? Our culture and our history is created through stories, personal stories, whether funny or sad, light or difficult, poignant or profound. Lessons From My Parents has collected 100 such stories from writers from across the world and shares them in this seminal work celebrating the life lessons we learn without even realizing it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781942672418
Publisher: Familius LLC
Publication date: 05/01/2013
Pages: 292
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.81(d)

About the Author

Familius is a publishing company focused on helping families be happy. Launched in 2012, Christopher and Michele Robbins founded Familius to take advantage of their love of publishing, family and the unique opportunity created during the technological revolution and Great Recession.

Contributing authors come from across the world.

Read an Excerpt

The summer after I graduated from college, I was jobless and lying around at my parent's house pondering my existence in the world. My grandma, Della, called me and told me to come see her. Della and Don Corleone shared this sort of control over people; when Della told you to do something you didn't argue. Della had been sick, and she needed help. It made sense for me to go. I was glad for the chance to escape since I hadn't a clue what to do with the degree or my life. I was on the plane the next day heading for Pueblo, Colorado.

I wasn't prepared for the woman who awaited me at the airport. She had lost weight and looked older than her sixty-five years.

"I am dying you know," she said after we hugged.

"We're all dying," I replied. In my family, the women are the backbone. Weakness of any kind in the girls is considered one of the deadly sins.

Della wasn't exactly cover material for Redbook. She was definitely not a blue rinse, Bloomingdales sort of lady—she clipped coupons, a scarred survivor of the Depression and was prone to hoarding cans of SPAM—and when the grey started weaving its way into her thick head of hair she opted for Lady Clairol’s Cherry Silver. She gave me a couple of days to enjoy our time together before we hit the Dialysis Center, and visited with her doctor. Our meeting with him set the tone for the next couple of weeks.

“Your kidneys are failing, and dialysis is no longer a viable option.” Dr. Mong was matter of fact. “Mrs. Ortega, there is little we can do for you at this point. I suggest you tidy up your affairs and make final arrangements. Is there a Mr. Ortega? I’ve seen a couple of gentlemen come and go during your treatments, but I wasn’t sure if one was a Mister.”

“There hasn’t been a Mister for quite some time, but there have been several SOB’s since Mr. Ortega left.” Still smiling, Della continued, “How much time is left on my limited warranty?”

“Limited warranty?”

“When is my time up? It can’t be that hard a question to answer. Is it hours, days, or weeks? Is the answer somewhere in those papers you are looking at?”

“Mrs. Ortega…” He paused for several seconds before lifting his eyes from Della’s chart. “It’s difficult to put an exact date on your warranty, but I suggest you gather your family and take care of any unfinished business. It’s a matter of weeks.”

“Thank you, Dr. Mong. Come on, Hijta, let’s go to Passkeys Bar and have a cold beer, maybe some lunch, make some plans, and celebrate.”

“Thanks, Dr. Mong. OK, Grandma, lunch it is.”

Over the course of the next week, the rest of the family flew in and took care of the final arrangements. I was at her side for whatever she needed. It was only fitting since she had always been there for me over the years. I had one more lesson to learn she told me the last night we were together.

"I haven't given you my recipe for green chili stew,” she said. I knew how to make it, had for years. I spent too many hours at her heels in the kitchen while growing up not to have learned how to make it. Since we were snuggling on her bed, I didn’t argue.

Her shunted arms pulled me in tight. The Este Lauder Youth Dew perfume she was so fond of wearing wasn’t strong enough to mask the smell of illness, which clings to the body once death takes hold. We lay intertwined for a long while. She drifted in and out. I hadn’t had to confront death before nor was I sure what I was going to do without Della. She was always there with an answer, even before I knew the question.

"Hijta, I want to tell you how to make Green Chili Stew because you won't find this recipe in Betty Crocker.”

“OK, Grandma.”

“You need some pork. Buy the cheap cut, pork shoulder is best and then cut it into bite-size pieces, fresh or canned tomatoes, and only use fresh roasted green chilies and jalapeños, chopped onions, fresh chopped garlic.” Then she explained how to cook it, "First you have to brown the pork. After it's browned, smother it with flour, and brown that too.” She was specific with the ingredients, but vague with the measurements and the time required per task.

“I won’t be here to help you along, Hijta. Life is not something you can measure out in cups and teaspoons. Remember this, and you will get along just fine. Cooking chili is a good place to find the answers you are looking for.”

I listened attentively because I wanted her voice to go on and on and never stop. After she finished explaining how to make chili, she asked me if I got it. I did. I understood. Life was not something I would find in books nor could I measure it out perfectly, and regardless it might come out differently depending on the conditions.

She closed her eyes for the last time.

Table of Contents



By Their Example 1

Loving Service: It All Started with Daffodils 3

My Mother Is a Believer 5

A Christmas Miracle 6

Freak Flag 8

Take the Time to Listen 10

Rich in Every Way 11

Respect and Compassion in Cairo 11

A Black Marker and a Name 12

Honesty and Accountability: A Reminder from My Mom 20

Follow Your Dreams 21

In the Kitchen 23

How to Bake Bread 25

The Year of the Slaw 25

Food Projects 28

Hootenanny 31

Give Your Best 33

The Piecrust 34

At Work 37

Loving Hard Work 39

Do What You Need to Do 40

Girls Can Mow 42

Should I Buy Food or Gas 44

Boys 45

Complete Service 46

From Our Grandparents 51

How to Choose a Companion 53

Grandma's Footsteps 54

Thirteen Letters 56

Grandmother 66

A Morning Devotional 67

Life Is Not Something You Measure in Cups and Teaspoons 69

From Discipline 73

Come Out Smiling 75

Patience Is a Virtue 76

Did I Really Want to Be Spoiled? 79

You Can Never Be Too Careful 82

From Literature and Letters 85

My Parents Gave Me the World 87

What Freedom Is Worth 88

I Made It In 90

I Am Strong 91

A Mother's Art 96

Go Do Something Productive 98

By Accident 101

Refusing to Dance 103

Dad Don'ts 104

Breaking the Cycle 105

Summer's Defining Moment 105

While Out and About 107

Man of His Word 109

Navigation 111

Central Terminal 112

Access 116

Fishing Green Lake 117

The Eagle 118

On Overcoming Challenges 121

Love is a Many Splendored Thing 123

She Never Flinched 125

Tenacity 126

Growing Up with No Warning 130

Encourage, Encourage, Encourage 135

Veterans 136

Always Be Your Child's Most Loyal (and loudest) Cheerleader 137

Worth Fighting For 138

From Wise Words 143

Back to Basics-Haiku 145

Behind Every Door There Is a Challenge 145

Go Barefoot 147

Proverbs for Life 149

Mama Couldn't Cook, But She Sure Had Good Sayings 150

The Coat 154

Wisconsin Lessons 156

You Decide 157

What's in a Name? 159

Moral Code 161

On a Sunday 163

Special Delivery 165

My Mother's God 166

Crossroads of Salvation 173

Living like Venus 175

In Our Youthful Follies 179

The Hiding Game 181

Plotting 185

Spring Break Lies 192

Please Get Over Yourself 198

From Father to Daughter 201

More Precious than Pearls 203

My Dad 206

Hey Dad, Listen to This 208

My Angel Father 213

The Pearl Maker 215

Stay on the Path 218

Journey on Valentine's Day 221

He Taught Me to Swing a Racquet 224

As Our Parents Age 227

The Barber Shop 229

The Art of Shedding a Life 230

She Had Always Loved Me 234

Coupon Clipping 235

Blue Booties 236

You Are a Good Son 239

In a Moment 245

It's OK to Cry 247

First Day Back 250

White Overalls 251

Daddy, I Promise 253

Pipe Down 254

Was He Worth My Tears? 256

Through Unconditional Love 259

A Simple Gold Ring 261

The Silent Warrior 265

Fish and Chips on a Sunday Evening 265

Measuring Up 268

Being Adopted: I Love You No Matter What 269

She Simply Listened 272

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