If I asked you at different stages of your lives to verbalize your “American Dream”, how many times would your answers differ? Your looking glasses would be constantly evolving and be influenced by the classes you took, people you met, books you read, the media, and the world around you.
When I was in seventh grade, my crystal ball predicted that I would become a teacher. Apparently I believed I had too much homework, because my “past me” saw my “future me” as follows: “She won’t give them homework because she feels they should have some free time.”
That never happened, because when teaching jobs became scarce, it was Grandpa who suggested I enroll in a few computer courses and that sent me down a different road. Except for the few years teaching at St. Pius School, my seventh-grade dream of becoming a teacher was never fulfilled.
It seems I enjoyed being part of a large family back then, because when I looked to my future, I saw “my twelfth baby getting married.” You know what, girls? Three was quite nice, thank you very much!
What did come true was “mobs of friends, relatives, and more relatives.” I foresaw a secure job, a happy marriage and children as “a good life, with plenty of laughs and good memories.”
The “real job”, which I defined earlier as one in which taxes and social security are deducted, was short-lived. It ended when Kelly was born and reappeared briefly during those few years teaching at St. Pius. When I predicted my future, I never expected to have such a short career. But is life ever predictable?
Dad was on the road for so many years. We decided to have him travel rather than to move with him, so I stayed home and volunteered for everything: hot dog lunch, pizza lunch, field day organizer, Girl Scout leader, class mom, library aid, yearbook editor, senior citizen’s lunch, PTA Vice President, Newsletter copier, Sunday School teacher, Montville town fish fry dinner organizer, newcomer committee, forensic judge, and forensic tournament food chairman. (I never contributed taxes to those jobs so by my own definition, I never worked during those years.) Did you liked my involvement in those activities or did you cringe with all my constant appearances at your schools? For me, it was a way for me to spy on you and your teachers from the inside.
When Casey got hit with years of mysterious migraines which began in Montville and finally ended when she went to college, all thoughts of rejoining the workforce disappeared. I think that’s why I enjoy my obsessive hobby of researching our deceased ancestors and writing my two books. It’s the job I never got to do but now one I can do on my own terms and with a honey of a boss!
Maybe no one cares (yet) that we had a cousin who invented a torpedo and another who once jumped on one. I hope that someday you will want to know the story of my great- great grandfather who served in the Civil War, the cousin whose paintings hang in museums in Europe or the cousin who was a chauffeur for the head of Warner Brothers Studios. Someday you will also learn of the family who died in the concentration camps in Germany. But for now, you have your own dreams to chase; your own wishes to fulfill. I understand that.
My dream for you is like that of all parents. I hope, in the end, you have “a good life, with plenty of laughs and good memories.” I hope when you look back, you think Dad and I helped make that dream come true.