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Family Pride: Richard L. and Sharon E. Kienlen

When my dad was in hospice, I asked him what he was most proud of in his life. He said, "You girls. My family." My mom wasn't able to talk before her death, but I know she felt the same way. I'm happy we made them proud. My sisters and I were raised well. We were always encouraged to find our own path in life, and to be kind and accepting of others. They let us make mistakes, which allowed us to grow. Actually, if you think about it, we turned out the way we did because of them. I am so proud to have had the parents I had, and especially proud of them for things I've found out since they left us.

Mom and dad grew up in very different environments. My dad was a city boy, through and through. An explorer by nature, he grew up riding the street cars all around St. Louis. He loved watching the St. Louis Browns and the St. Louis Cardinals (He was a Browns fan because, as he said, "I didn't know any better."). He was an only child, and his parents were older when he was born. He had a couple of buddies he hung out with, and his hobbies were photography and chess. He loved to travel, and to watch television, especially Star Trek (although his favorite shows in his later years were Seinfeld and Breaking Bad).

My mom, on the other hand, had a very different childhood. She was from Poplar Bluff, a smaller city in Southeast Missouri. Her parents were young and had come from large families. She had lots of cousins, lots of friends, and two siblings. She loved to sing! She was in the school choir, went to school dances, and was very social. I remember watching musicals on television with her just about every weekend, and she always knew all the words. She enjoyed writing letters to people, and never forgot to send birthday cards to just about everyone she knew.

Each of my parents made sacrifices they neve spoke about. No complaining. No "Poor me." My dad never mentioned his secret, and my mom fudged the truth a bit on hers. They made honorable decisions, and I'm proud of them, not only for the sacrifices they made, but because we didn't know about them. I wish there was more sacrificing and less complaining in the world today. We would all be better off.


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