November 12, 2010

A Letter to My Parents

I've been to ill to run (though getting better) so today you are all gifted with another installment from my 30 Day Letter Writing Challenge. For those of you who aren't interested in the following letter to my parents, you can watch this video instead:

Dear Mom and Dad,

I've thought long and hard about what to put into this letter; about what NOT to put into this letter. Just like everyone else, I had issues with my parents growing up. When I think about those issues though, I don't think of YOU, the individuals I laugh with and chat with and am still coming to know after 40-some-odd years.

When I think about those issues, it's like pulling them out of a shoebox I'd stuffed under the bed so many years ago. I find them old, dusty, and honestly invalid in the face of everything that has come after. I have always been one to focus on the negatives (thus the title and meaning behind this blog). I can now laugh at the small child curled up in tears on my bed, insisting I must have been adopted for the sole purpose of doing chores. I understand the angry teen who really never did go to New York in 9th grade, but certainly cost you enough in theft and damages to warrant the tab you kept on me. I can console the young woman who didn't understand love doesn't necessarily come on MY terms, and just because you didn't give me the attention I wanted (and craved even more for being in the middle of 6 children), that doesn't mean you didn't love me.

There is a lot of good mixed up with my "issues," in that dusty old shoebox. There are birthday cakes and Christmas trees. There are camping trips and scout meetings. There is the dresser full of old clothes, set aside for dress-up and Halloween. There is a thick, rubber-banded stack of memories centered in your huge, countrified kitchen: taffy pulled, corn husked, grapes, apples, peaches, and I don't even remember all the produce we processed. There were sing-a-longs and family games.

I left in a tizzy, full of self righteousness and anger, denouncing my relationship with you and refusing for several months to even let you know where I was. You welcomed me back with open arms, babies in tow and no idea how I was going to manage life as a single parent. You haven't always given me everything I've asked for, but when I needed you, you were there.

Mom, I thank you for my love of singing. You nurtured my artistic talent and my artistic temperament. We clashed a lot, in part because we are a lot alike. Have I ever told you how proud I am, how much I brag that my Mother owns her own business, is a Master Knitter you can find all over Google, and who has her own blog? I never fully appreciated how you drew us into your interests, growing up. I learned about sewing, knitting, crochet, latch hook, needlepoint, cake decorating, canning, and candy making. I wish I had some of those pot-holders we made so many of, weaving loops on little square grids.

Dad, I thank you for my love of tools. You don't even know how often I went digging through your red tool cabinet, just to see what was there. Did you know that's where I scratched my cornea? You taught me how to paint a house and a room. You gave me confidence to work with my hands. You are at the root of my fascination with trains, chess, and chocolate. You also instilled in me a love of science fiction and reading. I brag about you, too. My Dad headed an IT department, and is the reason we had computers in the house before there were hard drives and mice, back when you had to load Word Perfect floppy by floppy in order to write term papers on the little blue screen.

I should thank Mom too, for the reading and chocolate, as well as the puzzles, mind games and word games. Many of your combined interests became mine. You both fed the adventurer in me, with travel and camping and canoe trips. Your record collection entertained me for years, and many albums are included in my favorites of today.

I've learned a lot about you over the years... from you, but also from my life and my experiences as a parent. The most important things I learned were that you love me, and you did the best you could. In case you didn't notice, that best turned out pretty darn good. All six of us learned to love, to live, and to be happy. We've all learned to manage on our own.

I am enjoying my chance to help repair some of the damage I caused, by helping to remodel the house where I grew up. I am enjoying my chance to visit several times a week, and to learn more of who you are as people outside of the parent/child relationship. You keep thanking me for my help. What you don't understand is, this is my way of thanking you.

I love you.


Jean at The Delightful Repast said...

Your parents will treasure that letter forever, I'm sure. My husband and I were just talking this morning about how a little "knowing then what we know now" would have really come in handy!

Lorraine said...

Awww...I don't know what to say except that we love you.