Phil 101 McCormick
Major Influence #1 Donna Mae Schaub, My mother
Donna was an articulate young lady, whom had many diverse ideas on life. She was a dedicated mother of four and an avid church goer. She spent many hours ministering in the local jails. In addition she spent a lot of time volunteering in the community. I remember her as a pillar of strength and integrity. She was a very creative woman, who loved to write and laugh and just be herself regardless of what others thought of her. Donna passed away suddenly at the age of thirty leaving behind four small children including myself at the age of eight.
The loss of my mother was not fully realized until I was in my teens and could watch the relationships my best friends had with their mothers, while my diver side seat in life was occupied with a man, my dad. Having been raised without a mother figure, helped me to realize the importance a women has in molding an impression on her children. I learned that you simply can never take one moment for granted, because you are not promised tomorrow.
I have integrated the strength and wisdom my mother portrayed in her life into my inner being.. Immediate family is my roots of strength; I am anchored by my beautiful children in the ever changing soils of life which sometimes erode from beneath me. In those difficult times I look within to what Donna left on my soul and stand firm on my beliefs that being a great mother and enduring all tribulations together as a unit will strengthen the platform on which our family stands. On the other hand, losing my mother at such a tender age has biased me against my own children’s independence. I routinely find myself barking orders to Gracie, my eight year old. “You can do it yourself Grace! I did when I was eight, I didn’t have a Mom, remember?” In moments of sheer anxiety in acting as a single parent I tend to lash out unfairly at the kids and their abilities to do for themselves. After all I was cooking, cleaning and raising my younger siblings at Gracie’s age, why the hell can’t she make herself a sandwich? Some days I am left a lonely, prisoner in mothering hell, shackled by my own actions. I can only tread forward to another day and hope the hard work and lessons in the cell will help mold me into a better parent each day.
Major Influence #2 Seferino Mercado, My dad.
I have tried over the years to take both the good and the bad I have inherited in life from my parents. When I think about my father, Sefernio and his courage to continuing living without my mother by his side I feel pride and determination well up inside me. Dad taught me to both, respect and fear that he was in charge at all times. Even though he worked three jobs to support us and was hardly home. We all knew we must pull our weight around the house. I inspire to be able to withstand the same difficulties in life with such grace as he has. . I learned from my dad that the color of our skin and our roots do not matter as much as what we do for others and how we carry ourselves in life. It was difficult to learn later in life that my mom’s parents never thought my dad was good enough for their beautiful little Irish girl “Donna Mae”.
My dad is full blooded Spanish and I am very proud of that heritage. From a life of heartache and sorrow that little Tex-mex man, Seferino rose from the ashes with his head held high and cape of pride flowing behind. He taught us that to reap a good harvest in life we must become dedicated, hardworking, honest individuals. Most importantly, he reminded us when we were tending to the fields in our own lives not to be thrown off track to the ditches below just because we were sometimes labeled “Wetbacks”. I have become that person in which I do not care what others say of me. I am me and if you are offended or do not like me I do not care.
The bad in that attitude however has caused some strife in my life when it comes to personal relationships. My dad wove into my upbringing an independence that stands strong today! It has caused failed, broken relationships with men in my life. I learned growing up to depend and lean on yourself to make sure things get taken care of because you cannot go through life depending on others. Therefore I become the “Man of the house” in relationships. I take care of everything. Whether it is to pay bills or fix a leaky sink.. I truly hate that part of me and the internal deep pain it has caused me. I work on it because my children make me aware after failed relationships, that I need to allow a man to take care of me and it is ok to trust.
Major Influence #3 The Manistee River
I so love the soothing sounds of the Manistee as they rush past my window and lull me to sleep. Here is a place where I can be intimate with my deepest thoughts. All alone I can sit on the tattered dock and examine the glistening currents and occasional fish that may rise. It is in these moments I realize what my life has become and how the healing waters that flow can make it all right. I am very grateful to have made the acquaintance of the Majestic Manistee for without her I surely would not be me. The river taught me how to cast a fly to the perfect trout, slurp! It taught me to respect its natural beauty while kayaking its currents. Occasionally while wading, she curses round my waist then twisting, I see a reflection of Donna looking back at me. A tear falls now, cascading down my sober cheek. For it is here that I lost her oh this beautiful Manistee it can give life and it can take life. It is not fair I know!!!
It is a great place for reflecting, yet my children will never know her banks. It is too dangerous you see. Therefore to my children it will remain a mystery of picture books and fables. Is it fair that I keep them from her beauty, yes! They are my anchor in the soil, I cannot lose them too!
Deeper into the cave I go, I do not like the reflections that I see, dancing on the lighted walls, it scares me. All this time I’ve thought it was true, that I could not stand alone as a single mom and be accepted in this bias world. I now know that is not true, the shadows they were not real. They are just a mere illusion of the white picket fence with little Johnny, mommy and daddy. You see I broke out of the cave to explore beyond the shadows dancing on the wall. I discovered through difficult travels and many mistakes along the way. That it is okay and I will be accepted in a world of one parent families
Many thanks to Donna, Seferino and the Manistee for showing me how life outside the cave can be..
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