Do you remember…

17 Aug

Do you remember when you were about 15 years old, and your parents were seriously the most uncool people ever in the history of the world?

Don’t lie to save face, either, because I know that’s how you thought of them. You rolled your eyes when they made a rule. You openly defied their attempts to turn you into a better person by forcing you to go to bed early, or get off the internet before 2 am, or volunteer at the humane society. You genuinely thought you knew what was best for you.


I’ve recently discovered, as I push 30, that my parents are the smartest people I’ve ever met.

My Dad retired shortly before I moved to Houston, and since then, he’s done all kinds of interesting things. He goes on motorcycle trips. He goes four-wheeling “up north” (that’s northern Wisconsin, for you southern folks). He calls me randomly at 1:30 in the afternoon on a Tuesday and innocently asks what I’m doing. (Well, Dad, since we can’t all be retired and living the high life, I’m at work, so I can pay my bills and pretend to be a grown up. Oh, and so I don’t have to call you and ask for your credit card number so they don’t turn my electricity off.) He does random odd jobs for friends, which sometimes even includes getting paid. Since his retirement, he joined a gym and has lost over 30 pounds. He also learned to send text messages, which may be the best or worst thing he ever learned.

Before he retired, I didn’t see him much. He worked seven days a week as a forklift mechanic for the people that make the pepperoni you put on your pizzas. I won’t name them, because I don’t want to be sued for pointing out they made their employees work in a factory with no air conditioning in the summer, and didn’t think a 45 minute commute through a blizzard was enough reason to stay home. He woke up every morning at 3:00 to be at work by 4:00. Icy roads, two feet of snow – it didn’t matter, he was always there. His seven days a week work life put me through college with no student loans. It also ensured that he’ll be a very comfortable retiree.

I suppose I could be bitter that I didn’t see him much growing up. I guess maybe I was when I was younger. But the truth is, it made the times I DID see him incredibly special. Every trip to Michigan for the Father’s Day Weekend NASCAR race. Every time he took a random day off to go to the water park with me. Those memories all stick out. He came to every play I was in. (Even though, if you know him at all, the theater is certainly NOT his cup of tea.) Every Father/Daughter Dance with the Girl Scouts was attended. He never missed the important stuff. This is the man who taught me how to drive (and is responsible for my lead foot, though he’ll deny that until the day he dies), taught me how to shoot a gun, and taught me that hard work and money is great, but some days, there are more important things to do.

By contrast, my Mom has been an ever-present figure in my life. She was the one who made sure I went to college (and that it was paid for – my beautiful momma dropped out of modeling school and moved home when she couldn’t afford it anymore – and she made sure her daughter didn’t have to worry about that). My mom was the disciplinarian, because my Dad was so rarely home that he didn’t want to spend what little time he had with me being the bad guy. There were times when I hated my mom, and I told her I did. I can’t imagine having your child tell you that. But she was always there for me. Without her, I wouldn’t of gotten through my high school heart break. I remember standing in the rain, sobbing, smearing make up onto her white rain coat in the driveway because I was so broken inside I couldn’t do anything else. She has always been my rock.

She also recently retired, and now owns her own business, a yarn shop, which has been her dream since I can remember. She’s a good business woman, and she enjoys what she does. She’ll never be rich, but she’s so happy it doesn’t seem to matter. She lives with her two dogs and two cats in a house she owns herself. This woman is my idol: a perfect example of grace under fire, following your dreams, and not letting the small–minded, small town hypocrites get you down. She has always pushed me to do my own thing, be myself, and never compromise who I am for someone. She is perfectly fine with never becoming a grandmother, perfectly fine with never being a mother-in-law, because, as she says, the greatest joy in life is seeing your child happy, no matter what.

My parents are the coolest, smartest people I know. They’ve given me the strength to become the almost-adult I am today, and they’ve shown me that failure isn’t failure – it’s a chance to learn. They’ve also proven that they will always be there for me, no matter what time, no matter what the request. No matter what kind of trouble I find myself in, I know that help is only a phone call away. I know that when I fall, they will catch me. And it doesn’t make me spoiled, although sometimes I am. It makes me very, very lucky. Because not only do I have two of the most amazing parents in the world, I am also blessed to have two of the very best friends anyone could hope for.


3 Responses to “Do you remember…”

  1. Deb August 17, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

    That would so touching. I can only hope our kids can say that about Jim and I!! You are a pretty amazing daughter as well!!

  2. Renee August 17, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    Thank you Shannon! I will make sure my girls read this, especially my 15 yr old who has hated me so much lately.

  3. Becky B August 20, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

    your mama can be an honorary grandma to my baby girl. I’d like her to have a grandma like that!

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