Family Influence

I’d like to share with you a bit about the person in my life who has impacted my life in so many ways. As cliché as it obviously is, my father has had a great influence on me in several ways. One characteristic he seems to have instilled in me is that of remaining calm in the face of adversity or calamity. Many were the times he would admonish me, though not in these exact words, “don’t sweat the small stuff”. His outwardly calm demeanor, as we dealt together with some of life’s minor “tragedies”, stands out quite significantly in my memory.

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Photo @ 2008 by DeusXFlorida [CC by 2.0]

One such occasion comes to mind as I recall a summer camping trip to a local lake. As was usually the case, shortly after arriving at said lake, I quickly went about the task of collecting some of the local amphibious fauna: juvenile toads to be precise. Also as usual, my father relented and allowed me to bring them back home. It soon became apparent that feeding the little creatures would be a daily chore which we both took on. What also soon became apparent was that despite our best efforts, they were dying.  One by one, they were all succumbing to a mysterious stiffening of their bodies, a gradual rigor mortis if you will. Of course, I was heartbroken and of course my father was there with his reassuring manner, convincing me that they were all better off, having gone to toad heaven.

After having spent so much time with him as a kid, it’s easy to approach him today and talk to him about anything that’s troubling me, whether it’s the struggles of school or just personal thoughts. In fact, just the other day, I asked him after school one day whether or not school was as difficult in the 60’s as it is today. He answered in a brief explanation, saying that things were different at the time, and even though the academic course load was much less rigorous, there were different challenges of the times. I thought this might have just been one of those run-around answers, but I came to realize it was more or less true.

– Bryan Clements

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