There she was, one of three dolls: one dressed in pink, one bedecked in baby blue, and the third, in a pale yellow dress. My heart was a goner. Oh, please mama, if Santa could bring her, the one in the blue, that would be just the greatest thing ever. It was not normal for me to ask for things. It was sort of automatically known in my household that one did not ask for extras and special presents. To even be given a quarter at the county fair to ride the ponies that walked around in a circle was an act my father generated, not through my asking. It was not the material things I craved for however, but it was mental stimulation and the knowledge that my parents loved me unconditionally. But those things were missing.

It was after I graduated from nursing school that daddy asked me one day, “You always had enough to eat, didn’t you.” This was important to daddy, I could tell from the tone of his voice. And the answer simply was yes. I had always had enough food to eat, always had clothes to wear, and always had toys to play with. The only times I went hungry were by my own choice when I refused to eat something. Mama cooked southern comfort recipes, something I did not figure out until I was working on my masters degree. But it was comforting and mama was a good cook. All of my clothes were made either by my mother or my Grandmother. Many of my toys were made by my mother, who was very clever and gifted artistically. But I never felt deprived as everyone in our small home town was “the same as I was”.

The realization that where I am today was made possible because of where I started has been slow coming. But the forgiveness of my parents for their lack of ability to provide all of my needs, not store bought dresses or dolls but the lack of mental stimulation and unconditional love, was ever slower in coming to fruition. My parents were good people. As an adult, I have come to believe my mother was probably an angel God put on this earth. She gave unquestionably to others, tried never to hurt anyone’s feelings, and thought nothing of helping people put away left overs or clean the church, or helping to provide meals for bereaved families after a funeral. But I know now that they did the very best they could under the circumstances and perhaps I had needs they did not recognize or were unable to fulfill.

But I can say to them now, I know you tied to be the best parents you could. And without your strength and guidance, I would never have made it to this point in my life. Thank you for your love and support.