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To Celebrate All the Moms & Dads Out There A Tribute to My Parents
During the months of May and June, there are two important holidays families often celebrate: Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. While the origins of these events are religious in nature
Perhaps the two most significant qualities I learned from my mom were responsibility and gratitude, and I can recall some of the first memories where she made sure I understood their importance. One afternoon as a young girl, I took a piece of gum out of my mouth and tossed it on the sidewalk. Mom made me turn around, peel it off the cement, and throw it in the garbage can. I still remember her saying firmly but in her quiet, patient way, “You do not litter. Gum goes in your mouth or in the trash.” I also remember her making me write thank- you notes for every gift I received (even from family!) the moment I learned how to write. Despite her apparently quiet demeanor, my mom had serious moxie, and it was reflected through her marriage to my dad. Mom was born and raised out west in Wyoming, and when she and my dad fell in love and decided to marry in 1972, she was knowingly making a defiant but courageous decision that wouldn’t be supported by everyone. After all, a white woman marrying a black man wasn’t even legal, much less socially accepted, in Wyoming a few years earlier. The mere fact they married shows her fiery spirit and their shared commitment to the higher principle of their love. My dad passed away in 2004, but if you were to meet my parents, I have no doubt you’d agree they are a perfect example of how opposites do, in fact, attract. My dad was one of the most gregarious people I’ve ever known. He immediately filled a room with his presence and his laughter, but not in an overbearing way. His spirit was warm and inclusive. Dad was a Vietnam veteran, and I learned as a little girl that those funny darker spots on his earlobes and shins were from shrapnel that couldn’t be removed. He was certainly a tough guy, but he was also sensitive. He couldn’t hear about any harm to children, and when he did, oh boy, you better grab the Kleenex.
— stemming from the Christian and Catholic festivals Mothering Sunday and Saint Joseph’s Day, respectively — they’ve both grown to play an important role in the world’s social consciousness. I personally spend a lot of time thinking about my mom and dad this time of year primarily due to these holidays, but also because both of their birthdays are in June and July. I figure there’s no better time to honor the profound influence they’ve had on me. While I hold both my parents in high regard, the two of them couldn’t be more different. For example, my mom is much more introverted than my dad was. Throughout the years I’ve spent understanding my mom as an adult, I’ve discovered that while quiet people might not make the biggest splash, there is a lot to be learned from them.
I always appreciated his ability to break down people’s facades in order to see who they really were. He never sugarcoated anything he said, but he was so witty and open that he could approach anyone, say anything, and walk away with a new friend. I also distinctly remember he had several colorful turns of phrase, none of which can be printed in a newsletter, though! While everyone’s parents impart distinct qualities, it seems to me that the most important gifts parents can give their children are positive examples and lessons they can carry forward and share with others. I’m grateful for all the great characteristics I had the opportunity to inherit from both of my parents, no matter how different they might have been.
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