From the time I was born, I was raised on the southeast side of Chicago at a time when smoke still poured from the stacks of the steel mills. My father, who was a first generation Italian and U.S. Marine, worked in one of those mills while my mother, a first generation Slovak, stayed home and took care of the house. My ethnic heritage is said to be Irish or Scottish or both, with a bit of American Indian thrown in, though this is yet to be verified. You see, I was adopted because my mother could not bare children, but she and my father wanted a family. We didn’t have a lot, but there was always food on the table, a roof over our heads and an immaculately clean house.
I learned about integrity, hard work and helping others from my father. I watched him work hard his entire life to provide for his family while still making time to help the widows on the block with their lawns, painting, groceries, whatever they needed. I remember being a teenager on a roof with my dad and the owner of a furniture repair store. Jesse was a friend of dad’s and snow was threatening to collapse the roof, so up we went with shovels. We never worried about going through the roof, we just got the job done.
Fortunately, my husband lives by the same principals and we have tried to pass these values on to our children. We have given them the room they need to be self-expressive while instilling values in them that we hope will last a lifetime.
My father pushed me to be the best I could be at whatever I tried. He taught me to take care of myself. He did not want me to ever be at the mercy of being “in need”. I always drove older cars that he taught me how to fix myself with a trunk full of tools “just in case” I broke down. He said that way, if someone offered assistance, the least I could do was have the right tools to perform the repair.
Politics is a lot like an old car. There is always something that could break. You won’t like every single aspect of it. It may make too much noise from time to time. But, if we carry the right tools, and seek assistance and counsel from those who know what we have not yet learned, we can fix almost anything. When it is beyond that point, before you throw good money after bad, before you invest your time and sweat, you need to know when it is time to replace that old car.
We have a lot of old cars that need replacing in 2010. I only hope the people are paying enough attention to know which ones need to go.