The Bledsoe Firm April 2020

The Bledsoe Firm | 949.363.5551 APRIL | 2020

S elf -S ufficient to S ucceed How My Childhood Influenced My Career Choice

One of the things we have to do as we get older is acknowledge the experiences we’ve had in our lives and how these experiences have affected us. I’ve talked a lot about lessons I’ve learned from my dad growing up and the way I have benefited from them. I certainly had an unusual family. My mother grew up as the oldest child in a devoutly religious family during World War II and was a teenager during the Korean War. She actually got an academic scholarship to Brigham Young University (BYU) and could have gone there as a freshman. But, at the urging of her mother, she chose to stay home, work part time, and attend community college. A story I just heard recently was that my maternal grandmother was not in favor of my mother taking advantage of her academic scholarship to BYU as she believed it would turn my mother into a selfish person. My dad grew up an only child until age 14. His parents both had good employment. They enjoyed life and had many nice hobbies and vacations. He was well taken care of and always had nice clothes. His parents had discretionary income and hobbies they pursued vigorously. My dad grew up in Compton and was a very popular young man who had great promise and wanted to go to dental school at USC. He expected to be even more prosperous than his parents. They say that “life is what happens when you are making other plans.” Dad and Mom met in high school. Dad went to Compton and was senior class president. Mom went to Long Beach Poly. He fell for my mom on the first date. They married each other at age 19 and had their first baby, my oldest brother Bob, less than a year later in 1955. A second child, a baby boy, was born to them a year later. This child was born prematurely and only lived approximately two weeks. I came along just about a year later in June of 1957.

My mom then gave birth to three more sons in the next four years. By April 1961, my dad, who just turned 26 years old, had five young sons to support. He was working two jobs. Between 1955 and 1969, my mother gave birth to 10 children, nine of whom were boys.

By the mid-1960s, our family had moved to Agoura, a little suburb above the San Fernando Valley. We were able

to live in a modestly nice home in the suburbs because Dad was a fireman and also had a business providing chemicals to restaurants and bars. Dad worked super hard, and things went pretty well for the first seven or eight years. However in 1973, due to a series of events, Dad resigned his job as a Los Angeles County fireman and then ended up losing his other business due to a franchise dispute he simply did not have the wherewithal to continue. This put our family in a significant financial crisis. Dad tried other sales jobs and opportunities, but they simply were not enough to provide the level of income he needed to support the family. I knew what was going on and watched my parents agonize trying to pay the bills and buy groceries. There was considerable financial stress in our household. It affected all of us. I was quite terrified at what the future held. My dad became severely depressed. I went on a mission for my church in 1976 just as my parents were losing their home and moving to Orange County where they became renters from that time forward. My mom was the eternal optimist. She always believed that things would get better. She soon thereafter entered the workforce and got a good job as a secretary and worked for the next 25 years. With her income, things did stabilize. I only lived at home one summer after that. In the years that followed, Dad had his ups and downs. To his credit, he became quite good at building room additions and built many with the help of his sons who were still living with him. But he was never able to buy another home. My family just barely got by financially. I don’t think my dad ever really got help for his depression. He felt that his life was far less successful than he had planned. It had a huge effect on him and on all of us.

By the mid-1990s, all of my brothers and sisters had reached adulthood and moved on into their own adult lives. Each of us knew that, given our family’s financial situation, there really

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