I wanted to share with you all something that shook my belief system to its core in the form of a This I Believe speech that I originally wrote in 2014.
I believe in always saying “yes” to family. Frankly, life is short. With the limited and unknown amount of time we’re given in this life, I find the most important aspect of life to be truly cherishing my connections with loved ones, specifically family.
It took some time before I realized the significance of family. Growing up isn’t easy, and I was that typical teenage girl who thought I hated my life, and worse, sometime my family. My Mom loved walking. I remember refusing to go on walks with my mother, even when she would try to bribe me to accompany her. She wouldn’t walk alone, and since, I always said “no”, she never went on her walks. I remember refusing to do all sorts of simple favors for my kind-hearted brother, no matter how many times he had always said yes to my favors. I even remember refusing to see my grandfather for an extended time during the last bit of his life, because he wanted to discuss my religious beliefs. Even after he rendered we didn’t have to talk about religion, if I would just come visit him, I still took my time to say “yes” and pay him the visit he deserved.
Moving away from home and living independently has allowed me to reconsider my values and beliefs. I have come to appreciate family and try to say, “yes” whenever possible. Now, when my sister who lives two hours away calls to ask me to babysit, I always say “yes”, because what could be more important than playing superheroes with my two and four year old nephews? When my brother sends me an email at 10:30 pm on a school night and asks if I can proofread and edit his scholarship essay that is due the next morning, I’ll always say “yes”. Even when my baby brother calls me up for once, and I’m excited, expecting he might actually want to talk, just to find out he wants me to bring him home a chocolate shake while I’m running errands… I’ll always try to surprise him with a shake in hand when I walk in the door.
The day in my life that indefinitely grounded my belief was one Sunday in March during my freshman year of college. My sister and I lived in the same city at that time. She was driving home just for the day to see our mom and brothers and asked me to come along. I debated back and forth if I should go because I had two papers and an exam due that week. Very last minute, I decided, why not? “Yes.” I spent that beautiful, sunny day at home with all of my family. Mom grilled and tossed up some sides for dinner, and when she had time, she would sit out in a lawn chair and peacefully watch us play our games. My siblings and I played catch in the street and chased after my nephews and the family dog. It was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable days we’ve ever had. Later that night, my Facebook-savvy Mom posted, “Great day! I had all my children & grandchildren here today. That’s when an old mother hen is happy when she has all her chicks under one roof.” Saying “yes” to my sister turned out to be one of the most memorable days for all of us. I’ll always be thankful that I said “yes” to family that day, because unfortunately, the next day, my mother died unexpectedly.
Grieving is a reflective process, and I’ve realized that it’s my Mom who rooted my belief. Family was her #1 priority and it’s mine too. She never said “no”. When I was 10 and desperately wanted to take piano lessons, she somehow scraped up the money to pay for my monthly lessons, even though she could barely pay the bills. During my first year of college, when I wanted to go home, I always had a way home. My sister would always say “yes” when she could borrow me her car, or my Mom was always happy to make the 2 hour drive to pick me up. My family has always been there for me, even when I was not there for them.
Asking favors and saying “yes” to family is how we express our love, because family is worth it. When we enter this world, family greets us, and when we leave, it’s our family that bids us farewell. No matter what I endure in life, I know that my family will always be with me, whether it be my brothers down the road, my sister in another city, or my mother carried in my heart. The laughter, the smiles, the memories, the love… These are all my favorite things that I’d miss if I didn’t always say “yes” to family.