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Will You Follow In Your Parents Footsteps?

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Will You Follow In Your Parents Footsteps?

Footprints in the sand.

Footprints in the sand.

Getty Images

Footprints in the sand.

Getty Images

Getty Images

Footprints in the sand.

Ilona Soltys, Editor

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The cessation of the Soviet Union occurred in 1991 so, it’s safe to say that, by 2003  things in Poland weren’t “back to normal” just yet. 2003 holds the anniversary of the day my parents decided to pack their bags and leave behind everything they knew and loved in order to take the first step towards their new lives in the United States. So will I follow in my parents’ footsteps?

My mother’s favorite line to use whenever she hears someone complaining is the classic ‘when I was your age…’. She lowers her glasses down the bridge of her nose, looks them in the eye, and, in the calmest voice, she responds, “when I was your age, we had nothing on the shelves except for films of dust and vinegar. Be grateful for everything you have,” and then she proceeds to finish her crossword puzzle. I never understood the weight of those words until she sat me down and read me a chapter from the book of her life.

Both my parents grew up in villages somewhat close to each other; a twenty minute bike ride they like to say, on the outskirts of Poland near the Highlands. They grew up in a time of struggle. To explain the state of Poland at that time, they tell me that “everyone had money but there was absolutely nothing in grocery stores to buy. The shelves were empty.” My grandparents woke up at four in the morning to get bread before it was all gone. Every family got a certain quantity of food stamps depending on the size of their family. “This many for meat, this many for dairy, and this many for candy.” There was a curfew put into place and if you were out seen past the designated time, you were beaten and jailed.

My mother grew up the middle child in a family of five children. Her father died in an accident when she was only eight years old, so as one of the eldests, she was given the role of cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the kids as her mother worked long days at a factory. As the oldest, my father spent his teenage years roaming around Europe working odd jobs during the week to try and provide as much as he could for his large and continuously growing family. He would work five, sometimes six, days a week and would come home for Sunday dinner. When my parents met, they knew in their hearts that their beautiful Motherland would be a difficult place to happily raise a family.

After I, the youngest of three, was born, they made the decision to leave it all behind. Leave behind everything they knew and were comfortable with; their siblings, their parents, the grassy fields they wandered as children. They chose to do this to allow their children to grow up in a place where they had a choice. They wanted their children to choose what they wanted to be when they grew up. To choose what time they came home. To choose their own paths, form their own opinions, and be able to dream of a better life.  Their journey to this country was all but easy. It was an uncomfortable plane ride to a barren land they had only read about in fairytales. So the question still stand, will I follow in my parents’ footsteps? Will I push through all the hardships in my life in order to see the light at the end of the tunnel? Will I give up my comfort for the greater good of the people I love? Will I muster up half the courage they had to look my struggles in the eye and face them head on? Maybe I may not take the exact path they journeyed and maybe my reasonings for the route I choose to take stray from theirs but, the lessons they’ve taught me will always remain. So in the end, the answer is yes, though a little altered to fit my life, I will follow in their footsteps.

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