"My father was rarely an emotional presence in my early life, and he even had trouble being a physical presence because of the massive amount of work involved in running a farm. . .
"When I was only three years old, my grandfather, my father's father, died, leaving the entire burden of the farm to my father. He inherited the 360 acre dairy farm and was responsible for 50 dairy cows that required milking early every morning and evening. My father's burden included growing a potato crop and hay for the cattle each year. . .
"My life as a farm girl lasted only until I was ten. . . Financial pressures finally caused my father to explore other possibilities. He chose to leave the farming life and go back to school.
"Throughout my life, my Swiss-German mother made sure her children had the physical necessities of life. We were clothed and fed, but that's about all she was capable of providing. By the time I came along, my mother had given birth to three children in three years.
"My older sister died after only 24 hours of life. By the time I was five years old my mother was raising five children under the age of seven. She was under extreme stress and was continually too exhausted by her efforts to meet our physical needs to be sensitive enough to our emotional needs, including providing comfort and nurturing.
"In reality, I was unable to find safe love anywhere in my childhood. . . My extended family included a paternal grandfather who died when I was only three years old. My maternal grandmother also died that year, and my paternal grandmother had already passed away before I was born. The only possible relationship I could have enjoyed with a grandparent was with my mother's father. My grandfather lived nearby for the first two years of my life, but then moved back to his native Switzerland, rarely returning to visit us.
. . . "Only in looking back on this experience do I appreciate the irony that the only person in my life who was truly capable of providing effective warmth and nurturing lived thousands of miles away and hadn't been a part of my childhood. Ironically, everyone (including me) thought my life was happy and perfect. Because they were busy raising nine children, my parents were unaware that I was hurting and needed an outpouring of love and support." (My Tears Fall Inside, excerpts from pages 25-27.)
Sometimes parents are innocently unaware of the internal pain their children are suffering. As we observe the children and adults around us, is there someone we can reach out to, and help them feel loved and important?