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With my mother’s fortitude
and my father’s stoicism
I do okay.

Since you can’t choose
what traits are handed down,
you might as well capitalize
on the best of them.

Which is what I do now.

Not so in the past.

When I was young
I was heedless and self-indulgent,
a fool who made promises and
then ran away,
following for the most part
lessons learned in childhood,
the worst lessons.

And for years
I regretted many things.
I berated myself, believing
I was the mistress of my fate
who had failed to carve
out of the shapeless future
a living work of art.

But the years have brought
a clarity that was never there before:
I see the totality of the past,
the patterns that shaped my life,
and I recognize my mother’s fury and
my father’s forbearance in me.
And I understand the virtues
they eventually came to be.