I Am: These People’s Daughter
One Friday in the Fall of 1994 I was flitting around my bedroom preparing for a school dance. Yes, we had dances in the gym of our Junior High – a scenario straight out of a stereotype. In addition to all the awkwardness that the tween years bring, I was new to the area and completely unsure of myself. That evening’s anxiety was only increased by my inability to find my favorite pair of jeans. Without them, I was toying with the idea of skipping the whole event.
Mom offered to help me search. I assured her the jeans were not in my dresser, MOM!, but – you know what happens next – she walked over to the dresser, opened the second drawer, and there they were. Right on top.
I burst into tears.
“I don’t have a best friend!” I wailed, a sobbing non-sequitur.
“Helena, I’ll be your best friend,” my mother assured me. And she has been.
My father taught me to ride a bike. Granted, the whole no-training-wheels push started with a lie. We were months away from leaving Virginia and I was told that no kids in Texas had training-wheels on their bikes. Like every previous bit of wisdom my father bestowed upon me, I accepted it without question and headed to the parking lot at our nearby forest preserve to learn to bike like a big kid.
Dad taught me many key life skills: how to swim, how to drive, how to properly use silverware, that candy was dandy but liquor was quicker, how to properly swaddle a babydoll. He devoted entire summers to improving my math skills, reluctant though I was to participate in such enrichment. He proofread school papers. He never complained when we offered all our friends on the Track team rides home after practice. He was, and is, a model of patience and kindness.
Beyond all the obvious bringing-me-into-the-world and feeding-and-clothing-me business, the most lasting impression my parents have had on me is the strong relationship they have with one another. They are totally and completely in love. It’s inspiring to witness.