Reflections From The Cockpit April 2008
"Where Should I Go Paddling?"
Those who have read my past articles know I have referred to my father a number of times with respect to some of the lessons he taught me in my life. I always try to give credit where credit is due. In addition, since my dad died in 1977 it is a way of keeping my dad alive by passing his teachings on to others. However, I don’t recall passing on lessons that I have learned from my mom, so I will share some of them with you now.
While I learned many of my manly lessons from dad, I have to thank my mom for encouraging my problem solving skills. She was the one who would buy me different puzzles to solve. As my skill progressed she would try to find puzzles that I couldn’t solve. It frustrated her when I would solve them in only a few minutes because she said she spent hours on them with no results. Over the years my problem solving skills have kept me, and a number of other folks, out of harms way.
I love tying knots. I have to thank mom for teaching me my first knot, which was a simple overhand knot. It was of course in conjunction with a bow, which I used for tying my shoelaces.
I grew up in the projects of Brooklyn, New York. I have often mused as to my love of nature and the outdoor/adventure life I have chosen, being a kid from the city. When I think back, I have to say my mother was instrumental in getting me out of the city during the summers. I was sent to summer camps and sent to stay with my grandmother in upstate New York near New Paltz. I learned to swim in the Wallkill River. I had my first whitewater experience on an inner tube just outside of Rosendale. To be honest, I am amazed that I am alive today when I think back at some of the things I did when I was out in the country during my summers. Those adventures (stupidity of youth) were a big part of who I am today.
Since I was always the tallest of my friends my mom was very concerned that I did not fall into the posture that can happen to tall people. She always encouraged (nagged) me to walk upright with good posture instead of slouching over to minimize my height. Kids can be cruel. I was often made fun of due to my height and awkwardness as compared to my so-called friends in average size bodies. I know for a fact that part of my success in life was due in part to walking tall with confidence.
My mom and dad were both first generation Americans both born to Russian immigrant parents. Mom made it through high school and dad did not. Both of them taught me the value of education. Dad was a carpenter and mom was a seamstress, yet they made sure I had the opportunity to go to college. It was drilled into me for so long that it wasn’t a question if I was going to go to college; it was where I would go. I discovered my passion for teaching in college.
I have to say, the most valuable lesson I learned from my mother was to choose a career based upon something I liked instead of doing something just for the money. It was her way of saying to enjoy the journey rather focusing on the destination. Since I did chose education as a career I can honestly say my path was NOT chosen for the money. Due to my mom’s advice I believe I have positively influenced countless individuals during my career as an educator. My mom helped make that happen.
If you are wondering why I am basically dedicating this month’s reflection to my mother it is because it is one way to help keep her memory alive and a way to acknowledge just a few of her contributions. It is also a way to thank her for what she has given me and how her values have help me influence others.
I am writing this on my laptop as I sit in the hospital room as I watch my mom sleep. It will soon be time to say goodbye to my mom for the very last time. Then after that she will be kept alive in my mind. For the many of you who have thanked me for my classes, articles and videos you are also thanking my mom (Nadja) and my dad (Nick) for helping me become the teacher I am today.
Thank you mom. I love you.
Your grateful son.
USK Home Page© Copyright USK