I wrote this post two weeks ago. I scheduled it to post and took it down immediately, fearing it may be too personal, too long, too many details for the sweet readers who stumble upon this blog for pictures of sweet little ones and fun weekend recaps. But, while I do love crafts and cupcakes, it turns out there are sometimes other things I think about too…
There have been a lot of shifts going on in my life lately. Things changing at work, me thinking about my future, plans changing in my head. A huge thanks to those of you who have been the most wonderful sounding boards as I’ve wondered, what do I want to be when I grow up?
My biological father passed away in January of this year. It was unexpected. And heartbreaking. And other things I can’t seem to find the words for. My sister, mother and I went to Billings, MT to handle his personal affairs… and to hopefully gain some sort of closure. We went to his home – a small, one bedroom apartment. He drove an older, inexpensive car. He lived simply. I thought back to the last trip I had with my father – he had come to Las Vegas during the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college to visit. He got us a big, beautiful suite at Mandalay Bay. He took me to dinner at Lawry’s, to see the Lion King in amazing seats, rented us a cabana to read and enjoy the sun in during the day and before he left, he handed me one of his favorite motivational books to read. Later, as I opened the book to begin reading it, I discovered $500 he had placed in it. I can’t imagine how long it took him to save up for this trip. Never did he say one word about it – only discussing how happy he was to see me and how proud he was. Before we went to Montana in January, two individuals who my father had been close with, but whom I had never met, reached out to offer their condolences and kind words. I was able to meet one while we were there and hear stories of how my father volunteered in his church, helped the homeless and spoke of his alcoholism at AA meetings to help encourage others. Now, as I able to look back and reflect I gain the closure I wasn’t sure I would be able to ever have. I can say that when I grow up I want to be resilient like my father. I want to be selfless like my father. And I want to be a strong enough person, as he was, to realize that even when you make mistakes in life, there is always a way to turn your life around and to become a wonderful person.
My father’s death happened only weeks after our engagement and days before our move to California. Some days, I laid in bed all day watching Grey’s Anatomy, mute to the outside world. Preston didn’t ask me to pack boxes, didn’t expect me plan for our new home. He just loved me. When I needed somebody to talk to, Preston was there. When I said I wanted to laugh, he told me jokes and put on ‘Despicable Me’. He only asked me to talk when he knew I wanted to, he let me cry when he knew that would be best for me. That is how Preston always is, not only during hard times. He knows what I need before I know it. He knows how to make me laugh, when I need to be held, when I have an ever-so-slight worry about something or when I am unhappy. He makes not only me, but everyone he is around, so comfortable. It is easy to be with him and it is easy to love him. I long to be as accepting and loving as he is – and hopefully a lifetime spent with him will make me just that way.
When I was eight, my family had to move from Montana to Washington. My mother packed up her three daughters and made all of our arrangements to head (further) west to Seattle. The brakes went out on the Uhaul on the drive over – no matter, my mother calmly found a way to stop the 1,000 lb vehicle. We had little money and few plans – my mother arranged for us to stay with my sweet Uncle in his home. A mother to five, her whole life was dedicated to raising her babies. She recognized that being the most wonderful mom in the whole world wouldn’t pay the bills – so she enrolled back in college. She studied while my little sister and I played, if you know either of us, you know that is not a quiet ordeal. I don’t remember her ever getting frustrated, complaining or questioning what she was doing. I am sure she had those feelings, but outwardly, despite going through a difficult divorce, pursuing her education, raising five children and worrying about finances; she was the same amazing mother I had always known. Today, my mother is the Clinic Coordinator for a Breast Cancer Clinic that is pioneering new ways to help woman in the fight of their lives. Every day, she touches the hearts of women who are hopeless and hurt. She is not only an amazing mother to her six babies, but a ‘Mimi’ to six beautiful grandbabes. Simply, she is everything to everybody. My mother is the shining example of a strong woman, who never lets anything get in the way of her kindness.Preston summed it up best when one day, while talking about how women turn into their mothers, he said ‘I wouldn’t mind one bit if you grew up to be just like your mother!’ My mother provided me with an amazing childhood and an absolutely wonderful life, and I hope one day I can do the same for my children.
The move from Montana to Seattle happened soon after my sister, Hannah, graduated high school. She was offered scholarships for her achievements in academics and athleticism at a college in Montana. I am not sure if she considered accepting, but I do not remember a single discussion of her not coming with us. Back then, I didn’t see anything incredible about that – my sister was always there for us, I couldn’t imagine it any other way. I didn’t see the incredible until years later when I realized, (albeit she never brought it to my attention) that she left behind her wonderful friends, boyfriend, college scholarship and life in order to come support her family as we searched for a new life. I didn’t notice anything strange when, in an effort to ensure my invitation, I asked her if I could come to her surprise going away party and she only answered, ‘Of course you can!’ with no hint of frustration. She came with us to Seattle to help raise us and to give us all the love we ever desired. I now realize the selflessness of her actions, and I recognize how she does the same thing day in and day out today. Though smart and successful in previous positions, she has no desire to take job offers that will jeopardize the time she gets to spend with her family. She will constantly sacrifice personal wishes and things, as does her husband, so their two littles don’t have to miss one single wonderful thing in their childhood. When I grow up, I want to be as loving as my sister. Loving to her family, friends, acquaintances, peers, the world.
Shortly after moving to Seattle, my sister began working at a restaurant to put herself through college. The owner of that restaurant soon started to wonder about that cute little family of hers. Well, more specifically, her cute little mom. And, our mother? Well, she wasn’t interested. Not one bit. He continued to pursue – and one day, she agreed to a family date, where his daughter could play with hers over a bowl of spaghetti and draw-on paper table covers. The rest was history. He won my momma over because he was a family man. The best part is, that wasn’t an act and he the best family man our family could have ever hoped for. He’s the kind of person who works long hours to make sure we all have what we need. He’s the kind of person who edited every single one of my college admission essays multiple times – and then put me through college – without ever complaining. He’s the kind of person who set up appointments for me to look at my favorite Seattle wedding locations only days after Preston and I got engaged. He’s the kind of person who loves, supports and encourages us unconditionally.
When I grow up, I want to be like my role models. I am sure I will do work along the way, and I hope that whatever I do, I am great at it. But my career and the money I earn will not make or break me; it will not define who I am or who I want to be. These people, who have molded and loved, supported and encouraged me, have taught me what I want to be when I grow up. I want to love like them, share like them and enjoy life as they do. When I grow up, I want to be a loving wife, a kind mother, a caring daughter, sister, auntie and friend.