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For My Mother

When I was little, only about 18 months old, my mother noticed that my pupils were white instead of black. In a country where poverty was running rampant and civil war was on the horizon, the former Yugoslavia, she found doctors to diagnose the condition properly as cataracts. Then she found the money and time to get eye surgery for me so I wouldn't be blind for the rest of my life. This was her first gift to me. I am not blind. I've conquered cataracts.

While growing up in Serbia, my mother worked very hard for the American embassy, while my dad did nothing pretty much all day. She saved enough money for a pair of glasses for me, they were very thick and needed custom fitting at a specialty shop by the fortress in Belgrade. A small fortune is what they costed. She never went anywhere on vacations, but always ensured that I would have a good pair of glasses. As I grew I needed roughly one pair every year. That was her second gift to me. New glasses, check.

Going to kindergarten was a lot of fun for me. I got to go to the same place as most of the kids I went to school with. Every summer they sent children off on a vacation trip for two to three weeks. My mother saved money for this, too. So every year I got to go to Becicic, to Budva, to awesome places on the Adriatic Sea with all my friends. Despite my low vision I managed to take care of my glasses and go swimming and enjoy the beach with my friends. She tied a small stretchy rope around my glasses so they wouldn't fall off in the water, an ingenious solution. It made me conscious of my glasses, and I never once lost them. This was her third gift to me. Vacations for me, and none for her.

War was coming in Serbia. The men who ran the nation had run it into the ground. They were power hungry, egotistical, not very pleasant people, and no wonder the whole country suffered. It suffers to this day from the same mindsets that destroyed it back then. The children of those men rose up and took power of their fathers and now rule with the same sort of mentality. It's not a pretty place, Serbia, has always been war torn. It's becoming an uglier place by the minute. So when war was obvious to my mother in 1990, she worked very hard to save up money and to get connections in all sorts of places. She applied and was accepted into Canada. And to my father's protests, she moved all of us to Canada. This was my mother's fourth gift to me. A new home, peaceful home.

Pretty soon we settled into Toronto and started our new lives. I picked up English fairly easily by watching cartoons and talking with kids at school. But my mother realized that something our household needed most of all was a computer for me to tinker with. So she saved $3,000 and bought us our first PC, a 386sx-16mhz machine, with a Canon BJ-10e printer. It was the most incredible of learning tools I ever could have dreamed up. I got into BBSes, telecommunications, I downloaded all sorts of software, tinkered with programming languages such as Pascal and Turing and a bit in Assembler. I started developing my own 3D routines, bitmap scaling, my own file packaging algorithms, little games here and there, a whole new world of people I met through online services. This was my mother's fifth gift to me. A path to the future.

As I tinkered with computers, I learned more and more and technology progressed more and more. Through a family friend I got access to an Indigo machine to play with Alias PowerAnimator and I learned 3D animation. But the PC at home was becoming slow, everyone was upgrading to Pentiums. So my mother invested another $3,000 and bought an IBM Aptiva M70, which was a Pentium 75mhz computer. A drastic improvement over the old 386sx-16mhz!!! She took me shopping with her and I chose the new OS/2 Warp operating system. I didn't know much about Windows at the time. This introduced me to a whole new community of online users, since nobody physically close to me had ever even heard of OS/2. It was an elite operating system. I learned the basics of ReXX scripting, started downloading and installing software, played all the bundled games that came with it, learned from the bundled encyclopedia, played with the Shark Tank game, helped my sisters learn how to use a computer when, of course, I wasn't using it. I continued programming, I continued learning about telecommunications. This was my mother's sixth gift to me. A continued path to success.

Then as a result of all the knowledge I had acquired, I got my first job at Sprint Canada. I worked as a technical support specialist for a year. Then I moved up to Patriot Computer where I was a supervisor for another year. I learned MS Access, built a graphical database for the entire call centre, reshaped the way they did business, as before me it was all paper based. Then I moved up to UUNET, I got hired in February 2000 and worked until 2006 as a Tier II Technical Specialist. I was in charge of the Internet backbone of Canada, I was the emergency on call for our whole autonomous system. I was earning more money than my mother, who had finished university. I achieved all of this directly and in no small part thanks to my mother's gifts. If I was blind I would not have risen so high. If I didn't have access to computers at home to play with I would not have risen this high. If we weren't in Canada, I wouldn't even have had those computers. My mother is the sole reason behind all of my success.

But she's aging now. Pretty soon she'll need to retire. And due to a sudden health issue I was unable to work for 7 years. Now I've gotten used to not working, and although I have my own apartment, I rely on my mother's influx of cash every month to pay for my food expenses. I cannot cover my bills even with government's assistance. And I live very humbly. I don't even have a blu-ray player! Nor a recent game system. I have the bare necessities, such as TV, a computer, and clothing. I even have a soccer ball, but as I have gained tremendous weight lately, I don't use it at all. It's a reminder of when I was fit, down to 175lbs, and I was playing soccer every day for 5 hours.

I'd like to get back to being fit.

I'd like to get back to being employable.

I'd like to be able to support my mother in her retirement. To give her at least one gift back.

So I will study to be able to help my mom. That's my higher purpose goal. I need to study so that my mom can be taken care of in the old age. Not so I can have a job, have a wife and have nine kids, no. Those are all fine goals, but the overarching goal is to be able to support my mother in her old age. I would hate it if she had to move back to Serbia because we have a house there due to lack of money in Canada. That would due the worst thing in the world. We belong in Canada. i don't ever want us back in that inhospitable place, ever again. No thank you.

So I will study from this point forward to help her out. To help me out, too, but that not as much.

Thank you mom.


Future Master

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