Written November 21, 2012     
 

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© 2015 Bob Lonsberry

 
 
THANKFUL FOR OPPORTUNITY

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One of the things I'm grateful for is the blessing of living in a country where anything's possible. Where people rise or fall on their own merits, and there is no beginning so humble that it can't be risen above.

Like mine.

Not that I had it so bad, and not that I've risen so far.

But I've done OK. Because I had a chance. And that's what I'm thankful for.

I had a chance others have not.

Like my mother.

She was one of seven children in a household headed by a divorced mom who had a nervous breakdown once, and the kids were farmed out to various households as foster children and servants. She and her brother as little kids were made to share a bed with the retarded son of a family who took them in. She cried with fear through most nights while her brother, the one who'd had polio, slapped and fought to keep the retarded man from molesting them.

It was a tough life.

And she'd dropped out by the 10th grade and was in the mental hospital herself when she should have been graduating. She was a widow by 30 -- with four kids in tow -- and was a drunk by 32. Four husbands, no career, food stamps, frequent hospitalizations and an oxygen tank she had to carry around.

It was a tough life.

Like my grandmother.

A woman I never met. My father's mother.

They came out of Michigan late in the Depression. They were woodcutters and there wasn't any work and there were too many kids and they couldn't support them all so they were broken up and parcelled out. And she got sent to the state hospital at Willard. It was an epileptic hospital officially but mostly it was a dumping ground for the insane and the retarded and the misfit.

She was 14.

And she seems to have been in normal health, of body and mind, but they put her there and she died there 10 years later, with a toddler by her side. She had a baby someway, nobody ever said who the father was, and when he was 3 and she was 24 a barracks cough at the state hospital turned into pneumonia and she was one of them that died.

It was a tough life.

And I'm thankful. Thankful that they endured it as well as they did and that they flourished as much as they did. I am proud to be descended from them.

And I am proud to have risen above them. Not as a refutation of them, but as a vindication of them. Where I walk, they walk with me. Cast out by society, their legacy is now received differently.

I am thankful for that. Thankful that I have been blessed, thankful that my way has been eased, thankful that my trials have been less.

Thankful that, in America, anyone really can grow up to be anything. Thankful that, in America, no family can be forever held down.


- by Bob Lonsberry © 2012

   
        
   
 
    

Date Title Comments
Jan 30 A LETTER TO THE SENECA NATION 16
Jan 29 ADVICE FOR THE YOUTH OF ROCHESTER 57
Jan 28 I'M A SECOND-CLASS CITIZEN 34
Jan 27 THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ILLEGITIMACY 25
Jan 26 THE CONSTITUTION REQUIRES COMPROMISE 38
Jan 23 SILVER AND THOSE LIKE HIM MUST GO 64
Jan 22 THE FARMER IS OUR FRIEND 29
Jan 21 THE BOOING OF MAYORS AND NEWSPAPERS 47
Jan 20 FIGHT POVERTY BY CHANGING BEHAVIOR 49
Jan 19 I TRIED TO KILL MYSELF ONCE 33
Jan 16 CUOMO'S UPSTATE PLAN IS POLITICAL PAYBACK 38
Jan 15 TERRORISTS VS THE SECOND AMENDMENT 37
Jan 14 A LETTER TO MITT ROMNEY 43
Jan 13 MAKING A HEEL OF MYSELF 53
Jan 12 FRENCH CARTOONS WERE DISGUSTING 40
Jan 9 ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IN AMERICA 32
Jan 8 JOIN THIS CIVIL RIGHTS FIGHT 30
Jan 7 SYRACUSE COPS, REPORTERS GET IT WRONG 37
Jan 6 WHEN IS A FAMILY NOT A FAMILY 49
Jan 5 LOVELY WARREN'S FIRST YEAR 25
  Previous Titles »  


      
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