The Sum Total Equals Who We Are

I have wondered lately more-so than usual, what makes me the way I am. I know that we are the sum total of our experiences in our childhood and our adulthood, however what gives us our predominant personalities?

I have always believed that I emanated my mother and yet she ‘seemed’ was much stronger than I. She was able to raise ten children, work when necessary to help support them, and had a strength that was beyond what I could imagine. She loved each child as though they were the only child, inasmuch as each felt special for who they were, and not compared to the others. I was the last of the ten and regardless of the somewhat dysfunction during the years I was growing up,  I believe I thrived because of her love and devotion.

My father lived in the home until shortly before I was born, but he was not really part of the family, because he chose not to be. He had an addiction to alcohol, among other issues, and should not have been a father, but in those years (1920-1940’s +) circumstances were different. Once you were married you stayed married regardless of difficulties and just went about your life. It was only when it became apparent that there were physical abuses beginning, that he was not allowed back in the home. So he was not part of my life at all.

I sometimes wonder how many times my mother secretly thought that she couldn’t go on. I only wonder, because it was never evident that she felt that way. I’m not saying that she didn’t ever have difficulties, only that I didn’t witness them until later in my life. Because she was so strong, I think I have gauged my life against hers’ and believed that I have fallen short.

I do have an outlook on life and family that she had, in that her family was the most important thing to her, and she was like a mother bear, always looking out for us whether we were two years old or thirty-two. She seemed to always be able to sort things out for her children, and between her children, regardless of their ages. She was respected by them all.

So here I sit, thinking about her and how she would have handled the situation that has happened within our family, and wonder how I might have done or said things differently that would have resulted in a better outcome.

I know, we should not second-guess ourselves and we should not compare ourselves with others. I only sit here and wonder. It is a new year and it sometimes causes thoughts to drift to the year (s) previously, and think about the year (s) facing us. Nothing can change or alter the past but we can choose how to face the future. I can’t control the future, but I can control my attitude toward it.

I will be honest and say that while I want to believe it will be optimistically, because that is my intention, it is not guaranteed that it will be without problems. And I do not always feel optimistic.

And so I sit here and think, ‘what would my Mother do or think, just about now?’

17 thoughts on “The Sum Total Equals Who We Are

  1. A touching post and one that made me stop and think about my own mother and her struggles. I suppose we all struggle, and we probably look strong to people, though we may feel we are losing control. You have a great positive attitude and I think that’s the most important thing. To not let yourself fall into depression comparing and thinking ‘if only’ takes strength and you have that in spades. I’m sure your mother is very proud of you.


  2. Diane, Your story is very much a story of the era of the Great Depression. It was a very hard time, and it hardened many people, especially men. My mother, and grandparents were sharecroppers. As a little girl,my mother would pick cotton (that’s called child abuse today) and did whatever else was needed to help my grandparents to survive. They would farm in Florida in the Winter and in Georgia in the Summer. Families were large. Wages were very low. I have heard some of the “old timers” telling me about earning fifty cents a day. I have also heard about “the man of the house” getting the majority of the food at meal times because he would have to go to work the next day. I also remember my mother telling me that children could not talk at the “supper table.” (dinner was at noon; lunch was when you had a sandwich in a bag). A deep water well could found in the front yard, and in the back yard you could see a half moon cut into the door of a,
    well you know. One of my grandfathers had a Dodge pickup truck, which he drove everyday. He also had a Plymouth sedan, which he kept parked in the barn and only drove it to church on Sundays (really). I remember my grandmother rolling up the hem of her “frock” when she would go fishing with my grandfather. Still, times were very hard. Large families seemed to fare somewhat better than smaller ones, although most families had about 8 children. The time of the depression brought out the best in a lot of men, but really took the life out of many. I think that the movie, Spencer’s Mountain tells a story about the type of hardness that your mother experienced. I am glad that she was strong for the sakes of you and your siblings. I wish that I could have known her. Many blessings to you.
    John 17:3
    Pastor/Equipping The Saints


    • It surely was a really difficult time. Since I was the last born I didn’t bear as much as the others. I heard most information from my older sisters about how it was. My father was a barber and as men always even in the depression got their hair cut, it didn’t have to be as stained financially as it was…but because my father was an alcoholic and gambler it was hard for my mother. It’s strange how she just comes to mind when I am feeling challenged like the situation with my daughter…. It was such a comfort when she was alive and well, as she always seemed to know what to say.

      Just a little end of year musings… Thanks for sharing and understanding…. I think of you and your wife often and pray that perhaps the veil will lift at some time of God’s choosing. When ‘it’ goes on for a long time it’s hard to think that things can change, and maybe they won’t, but we can hope and pray. I wish people had been kinder to her when she needed understanding…. I realize that you and she have accepted and adapted to living as things are and that is ‘grace

      I once thought (but have since realized that I could not) …that I would write about my mother… and the only thing I decided on was the title… ‘The Age of Grace’ because at different ages and stages of her life she was living with such grace. Ahhhh I guess that I will leave the reminiscing now for another time….. Diane


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