I also no longer sweat the discomfort of sharing the past, the present or the voyage along the way. And I don't see any point in keeping my story to myself, as explaining about life with my parents, for example, might inspire and give strength to many suffering men and women out there who can relate to and benefit from my parents' challenges, and from the courage they displayed during some of the more difficult times. It would be a shame for their life's experiences to have died along with them. Better to remember even their pain as a source of inspiration than to forget them in vain. My parents were conscientious people with good intentions. If they were alive today to reflect on the years when my brothers and sisters and I were growing up, they might not feel that they'd lived up to their good intentions. There were plenty of times when the Twain family didn't have enough to eat, lacked warm clothes in the frigid Northern Ontario winters and lived in a cramped, rented apartment or house with no heat. The perpetual undertow of financial instability took its toll in other ways, as it usually does, compromising my parents' love for each other at times and no doubt feeding my mother's recurrent bouts of depression.
Because of the unpredictable periods of instability in my childhood home, I didn't feel that I could really rely on my parents to be consistent caregivers or protectors of me. I didn't know what to count on from one day to the next—calm or chaos—and this made me anxious and insecure. It was hard to know what to expect, so it was easier to just be ready for anything, all the time. But I understand and forgive my parents completely for this because I know they did their best. All mothers and fathers have shortcomings, and although there were circumstances during my childhood that to some may seem extreme, if one could say my parents failed at times, I would say they did so honestly. They were often caught up in circumstances beyond their control. If my parents were here today, I'd tell them what a great job they did under the conditions. I would want them to feel good about how they raised me. I would thank them for showing me love and teaching me to never lose hope, to always remember that things could be worse and to be thankful for everything good in my life. Most important, they taught me to never forget to laugh. I thank them for always encouraging me to look on the bright side; it's a gift that has carried me through many challenges. They may not always have been the best examples, or practiced what they preached, but it was clear they wanted better for us. That in itself was exemplary.
Ultimately, I am responsible for how I live my life now, and what I make out of it. In fact, I am actually grateful for what I've gone through and wouldn't change a thing—although I admit I wouldn't want to live it over again, either. Once was enough.