I'm a child of the 70's, born and bred in Belfast in the height of the 'Troubles'. My mum and dad met when they were very young - mum got pregnant, dad got shot. Shocking, I know - and it happened two weeks before I was born. As a result, dad has been in a wheelchair, paralysed from the waist down ever since.
Now , there's a number of things about this that amazes me:
*Dad is still alive - he was only given a few days, then weeks, then months to live. It's 35 years later and we still have him (thank the Lord!).
*Mum and dad are still happily married - of course they have an incredibly difficult life (mum cares for dad full time) but they love each other and have gotten through an amazing amount of 'near death' situations.
*They never display any bitterness - in fact they have taught me the important of tolerance and respect for others (regardless of religion, race, class).
*They sacrificed their life to make mine the best it could be - and it has been great! I was the first in my family to go to university and get an Honours Degree - I did it because they believed and empowered me to do so.
*My childhood was happy, safe, secure, loving, fun - and I could (and still can) talk to them about anything.
*They adore my daughter and still find energy, finance, and passion to invest themselves in her development.
Oh, I could go on and on (I've huge tears running down my face). My parents have helped to make me who I am today (of course there are other factors - God especially) but they made me believe anything is possible, from a very early age.
When my school teacher advised them not to let me sit the Transfer Test (because I would never amount to anything, due to where I came from) my parents insisted that I should reach for the highest of goals and dream big! They are so proud of me - a primary teacher and assistant pastor - and tell me regularly. I secretly guess that they would say the same, regardless of my job or what I do. They are proud of ME (the person I am). It makes you stop and consider how much more God feels about us.
I have wonderful childhood memories - it wasn't a bed of roses by any means, but it helped to craft a character within me that's not easily moved by circumstances. I love my mum and dad with my whole heart and am truly grateful for everything they've done for me. I'm going to tell them when I see them next!