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You know where you have come from, you know what you had growing up. But while we are children (in my case anyway) I used to have wants and used to regard some things unfair. Not being able to have that mars bar, that ice cream, that bag of sweets. My focus was on eating and what I could get. Yet we did not realise the sacrifices that were made in your family to have what you did have. 

It’s easy to forget how hard it was to get to the position you are in, and your children may never realise what you sacrificed to be where you are today. In my case it was later on in life when I realised what family is actually all about. That the love I had within me was being used the wrong way. That it was far more satisfying to give something to someone that needs it rather than to get something because you want it. Then I had a eureka moment, that that’s what love meant, that the word often used by my brother instead of “I love you” is the word family. That family although possibly not translated this way in the dictionary. Actually means sacrifice for each other. Giving because you love someone not always because we want to, but most certainly because we love that person. 

Working till 3 am, overcoming pain, smiling because every smile is a gift and a lift for someone in their life. It’s easy to forget what battles someone has faced to get to the very point they find themselves at. That their journey has had bumps in the road to. That doing for someone means that you are a part of something, that family means that you belong and that the efforts you have made are because you are in a family. We are all different that’s for sure but the feeling of love we have is there because of all that has been done in the past. The feeling a parent feels is overwhelming, you hear it said “a child only a parent could love” 

When me and my brother were growing up, I wanted to do and feel things how I thought I should. All children think they know best and I carried this on right up until my 40’s only the lessons in cancer taught me “you learn more when you listen”. Since then I have asked my parents many things and I have learnt much about them. My dad surprised me one day when he said he had made mistakes and asked me for forgiveness. 

Things have started to get a new perspective, losing a pet, loving a dog. They become family, and while some may say “it’s just a dog” you know they have never had a dog simply by calling him/her IT. I very much do my best to live a life where I love my dogs. Yes we have two. Labradors, but no children.  My wife and my dogs are our family, and it’s so nice to be a part of.

The word family means, unconditional love. It means sacrifice, it means going the next mile when you think you can’t. What my family is like is personal to me as yours is to you. But I will never forget in a low point in my life, my dad saying to me. “The Lord will restore the years the locusts have eaten” I could never see it before. Because to see it, dying to self was the most important.  Yet my wife and I will spend some time together in a cottage in Wales with my parents and our dogs really soon. I really look forwards to that, and don’t dread it at all.

That my wants were not the most important, that indeed what my wife needs is the most important. What my dad needs and mom needs are the most important. But I guess we all grow out of that immaturity, or is it just that the mars bar became a car. 

What I do know is that family is love, that encapsulated in the word family are many things that only your own immediate family know. The small things we do for each other are really what count. Not to count what was not done. That’s just a waste of time. All families have failings, but there are also some very beautiful things to be found in family. We just have to choose not to labour in what didn’t happen rather be grateful for what does happen. Family is precious, many say bloods thicker than water. But we also choose to love people that are the family we choose. 

So just take a moment to appreciate all that family means to you, be thankful for what you have. Because one thing is for sure, today is a gift so don’t waste it remembering your mars you never had. Remember all that was sacrificed so you could be you. It’s a wonderful life.



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