My parents have been married for a whopping 50 + years.

And if that wasn’t impressive enough, my dad travelled to the UK from Cyprus as a 14-year-old, with big dreams of pursuing a dream career in hospitality.

If there’s ever an inspirational life lesson in pursuing crazy dreams, it’s surely this.

Back in the 50s he literally left his family in Cyprus to start a new life here in the UK. Yet he knew no one except the uncle he stayed with up in Leeds. He turned his hand to any job going just to make ends meet while learning English. Talk about grit and determination.

“What you have to do and the way you have to do it is incredibly simple. Whether you are willing to do it, that’s another matter.” – Peter F. Drucker

My parents got together in their 20s when they were employed by the same hotel. My dad worked tirelessly as a happy-go-lucky waiter in the hotel restaurant, and my mum beamed with radiance on the reception desk, welcoming guests with that beautiful smile of hers.

Fast forward a few years, and my parents wanted to get on the property ladder and start a family. Their combined income didn’t meet the mortgage requirements so their applications were refused again and again.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” – Henry Ford

Never ones to give up, they contacted an acquaintance they’d met through the fancy functions at the hotel, and whaddayaknow…. strings were pulled and the mortgage was approved.

How does that saying go again? Ah yes: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

My parents went on to have three children. Two within the same 12 months! I can’t imagine the chaos when the family then expanded to three little ones under three years old!

I’ve heard stories about how my dad’s heart softened when he rescued a kitten from a man down the pub because it was going to be drowned.

“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Then there’s a time my sister was ill and my dad came across a hedgehog on his way home and placed it on the end of her bed as a surprise to cheer her up. As you do!

It’s worth noting that not only are hedgehogs usually wild animals and not domesticated pets, their flea infestations apparently rise from their tiny spikes like a frenzied black cloud when they are moved from the cold and into the warmth of a cosy home. I hear that this was indeed a surprise! Ha!

In early 1980, 11 years since the last child, they were expecting again.

Medical advice was rather different back then, and age wasn’t on my mother’s side, so opting for an abortion was the only advice they were given.

As I approach my 38th birthday let’s just say I’m rather pleased my parents ignored that medical advice and continued to march to the beat of their own drum, as they always had done.

“Parents were the only ones obligated to love you; from the rest of the world you had to earn it. ” – Ann Brashares

They went on to live that hospitality dream of my dad’s and they were landlords together for over 30 years. They have four children, five grand-children, and two great-grandchildren. And they’re now enjoying a very happy and well-deserved retirement.

They freakin’ rock for many reasons, and the life lessons they have taught me are truly invaluable. Their struggles also fill me with the confidence that I will overcome any obstacles in my way. Oh and, perhaps most importantly, that love and kindness is always the answer.

What did your parents or caregivers teach you about life?