During my early years, my family made the most of what we had. We did not have very much money, but we had a lot of love. Because of our financial situation we ate meat about once a week. Most of our meals consisted of eggs, beans, rice and potatoes. We never had vacations. My siblings and I seldom received gifts. I remember playing outdoors all the time. We created our own games. For most of my childhood, I remember playing within the confines of a fenced area that included our two-room home, my grandmother’s house and my cousins’ house. Our home was so small that my brothers slept in the kitchen and I slept in my parent’s bed until I was about twelve.
As I think of my formative years, I realize that I never felt we were poor. My parents worked and we were taken care of by my grandmother and my aunt. I remember having a happy childhood. As I got older, my brothers and I would spend our summer months doing field work. It was in the evenings when I heard my parents and other field workers discuss dreams for their children’s futures. That experience motivated me to become a teacher. I wanted to touch the future by helping students, teachers and parents.
After getting married and having children, we struggled financially, yet my wife and I made sure that our children received all of the love that we had. We protected them and shared values that we had learned from our parents. We learned that who we were and how we would be remembered would depend on how we lived our lives and how we helped others. Money or the physical possessions we had were not given importance. I want you to think of your legacy and I want you to learn that material things should not define who you are.