Tuesday, February 26, 2013

There was never a doubt.

A few weeks ago, I celebrated my 33rd birthday. Like all other birthdays that I've had, I made much less of a stink about it then some of those around me.

I got many kind phone calls, texts, emails and Facebook comments that I appreciated and certainly lit up my day. It was also some of those comments that inspired this blog:

"Every birthday for us is a good one"
"Wow, 33!! Bet you never saw that coming!"
"Cherish all of your birthdays because none of them are guaranteed"

and on, and on and on....

Now, let me be clear. The people that left/said these obviously meant nothing negative nor do I think they were doing a bad thing. Many of us have been trained over the years to throw-out CF specific phrases at such a time (none of the above would have been said if I didn't have CF). I get it. And, I still very much appreciate them thinking of me on my "special day". It's just that if I'm being honest, those type of comments don't sit well with me, not because they're bad, but because they are so counter to the way I think and the way I was raised to think.

I never had a doubt that I would see 33. Neither did my mom. It was never talked about like some "pie in the sky" idea that I would grow old, graduate from college, have a career and raise a family. At least it was never talked about as a hopefully or if kind of a thing from my parents. It was always talked about in the context of when.

My mom made it clear. I would celebrate a lot of birthdays. Not because I was special. Not because she was so good at parenting. Not because my CF wasn't going to be tough. No, it was because CF was  tough and a tough disease requires a tougher reaction to it. She taught me that my reaction would be one of self-confidence through a belief in treatments, a life of exercise/activity and a faith in God.

She knew it wouldn't be easy. She knew I would make mistakes. She knew CF would never take a day off. However, the thing she said to me more than anything else was that she knew I would be okay.

That confidence came through nothing else but knowing she had done a great job in instilling the values that are still with me today: Personal responsibility, never quit attitude, embrace my failures to propel me to successes, do for others and family first.

And so I ask myself, what if my life hadn't turned out the way it has so far? Would I blame my mom for having such a will do or can do outlook? I certainly don't think so. I've also spoken to many others about this and they feel the same way. In fact, the peeps that I talk to who have an issue with their parents are the ones who had parents raise them in the opposite manner. The parents who held them back. The parents who insisted on raising a 25 year-old child because "they knew better". The parents who didn't make treatments and health a priority. The parents who told their kids about all of the things Cystic Fibrosis would stop them from doing.

I know I've talked about my mom a lot on this little old blog, but that's because she played such a pivotal role in who I am today. I think about life the way she raised me to think about life. My attitude towards CF is her attitude towards CF. She helped make me into the man that my wife fell in love with. She's given me some of the tools that I hope will assist me in being a great father. It's because of her that I've not only seen 33, but that I've lived the last 33 years and will live another 33 more.

I'm here because of the people who love me. Not in spite of Cystic Fibrosis.