Today’s Thanks – 3/26/15

My parents were both born in 1928 exactly two months apart on the same day of their month. Mom was born in April and Daddy in June.

Mama was born in Ganado, Texas, a very small town about 40 miles inland from the Texas coast. Her parents ran a small grocery store for a while. Eventually that was sold and my grandpa went to work for Texaco and my granny worked at a dry goods store. Mama was an only child, almost always smiling, well-loved by all, probably spoiled, very fun-loving. She was in all the clubs at school, including the band where she played the clarinet, never missed a day of school and has the certificates to prove it, and finished near the top of her high school class. She went to an all-girls Catholic college in San Antonio where she earned her degree in home economics. After college, Mama became an elementary school teacher. Her favorite grade to teach was always third, but she taught as low as second and as high as fourth depending upon what grade my siblings and I were in for the year. I don’t know the exact number of kids Mom taught, but I know that she had a huge impact on each of them.

Daddy was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His daddy passed away when Daddy was 18-months old. His mom, my namesake, remarried and that gentleman adopted Daddy. Daddy was also an only child but did have a step-brother a few months older than him. His mom passed away when Daddy was nine and he was sent to live with her sister’s family in Texas. That was a hard life – since there wasn’t an extra bedroom, Daddy slept on a bed set up on the porch, which was probably great in the heat of the summer but not so much during the cold fall and winter months. The family traveled quite a bit working the oil fields from Texas to California. Daddy got his high school diploma and then joined the Navy very near the end of World War II where his ship was deployed in the Mediterranean Sea. When he left the Navy, he became a bricklayer and did the finest work ever! No brag … just fact!

Daddy was never much of a talker. Oh, he would tell a story about his life if asked something, but he wasn’t one to offer much up otherwise. He was the quiet sort. He always had a project of some sort going and was usually easy to find – just look in the shed. Mama, on the other hand, was always laughing, talking, and having a great time. She loved to dance (she taught Daddy and they were a sight to behold on the dance floor!), she loved music of all kind but country swing, in particular.

They threw the BEST parties! One in particular really touched me because they put on a surprise 40th birthday bash for me and took the time to contact old friends from my very early days with IRS in both Austin and DC. I was shocked at the friends I saw that day and the ones that even flew all the way from DC! What an honor that my family and friends took the time to do that for me. I recently found a copy of a VCR tape of the party – as usual, Mama thought ahead and had someone tape the entire thing. I had it transferred to DVD so that I could watch and listen to it. It was a blessing to hear my parents’ voices and laughter again.

Mama and Daddy also allowed me and my siblings to make our own way and our own mistakes. Of course, they were right behind us to save our butts when we needed it, but they let us think for ourselves.

I remember in 1974 when my friend Martha and I decided that it would be fun to backpack across Europe for a month. I’m sure Mom and Daddy had many reservations, but they were excited and pleased that I was able to go. And then there was the desperate phone call I made home in 1980 after moving to DC for my job with IRS. All I wanted was to move back to Texas (after only a week in DC). Mama listened for a bit and then told me that they would love for me to come back home, and that no one would think less of me if I did, but that she thought I should really give it a little longer than a week. Of course I did, and I haven’t lived in Texas since. In fact, I have now lived away from Texas for a longer period of time than I lived in Texas. However, it will always be home.

Daddy passed away in February 2006 and Mama in March 2013 (in fact this coming Saturday, March 28). I miss them every day. I know of only two regrets that Mama had. She always wished that her parents had allowed her to go to Europe with her college roommates after they graduated. And she always wanted to move back to San Antonio to live. If Daddy had regrets, he never shared them with me.

So, today I am thankful for having the parents that chose me to be their “first born”. I am thankful for everything they gave me and for everything they made me earn for myself. I am thankful they let me fly when I needed to while always knowing that I had a safe place to land if things didn’t go as I hoped they would. I am thankful for all that they taught me. And for the things they allowed me to teach them, like how to cut and paste on the computer! They provided me with an excellent start and cheered for me since the beginning as I usually soared, but sometimes crashed.

They may no longer be visible to my eyes, but I carry them everywhere I go in my heart. I know that they are my own personal guardian angels … they have been since I showed up in 1952. Thanks Mama and Daddy. For everything.

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