Last Thursday, my parents made one of their annual treks from North Dakota to spend a week with us. My parents drive this journey several times a year and do their best to time it so that they can be a part of the girls special moments and cheer them on. My mom and dad have been doing this since my three children were young. They not only have come to celebrate my children’s achievements with us, but they have also been here with us during our most painful and traumatic tragedies. These are priceless gifts straight from their hearts.
When my husband had his accident in August 2011, then my parents drove to be with us for the days that he was in trauma. They drove my three children 4 hours each day so that they could see their daddy every day. They timed their trip perfectly so that it coincided with when I would get kicked out of the trauma ICU at shift change which gave my children time with their daddy and then some time where I could take them for dinner and talk to them about all that was happening with their daddy. My children needed those times. They needed to see their daddy every day and they needed some time with their mom each day to process what was happening. I needed those times too. My husband died after four days in the ICU trauma unit, and my parents stayed with us to keep loving on us and to be with us during the days that followed. They did their best to surround us with love and to help us any way that they were able to even though they often felt helpless knowing that we were in so much pain. This was a priceless gift that they gave to my children and I.
22 months later when my only son was killed instantly in a car accident then my parents drove immediately to be with the girls and I. I can still hear my mom’s screams when I called her and told her that my PK was dead. I was in complete shock… I remember telling her that PK was dead and just laying the phone down on speaker while she screamed. I had absolutely nothing to say. My parents stayed with the girls and I for weeks. They again tried to do anything that they could to help us, but they again felt completely helpless. They were there. They went with us when we had an activity. They brought stability to an emotionally devastated home. They brought their love to absolutely broken hearts. They continually showed us that they would do anything that they could to help us. Their hearts were so hurt from the deaths of my son and husband. Yet, they were there. This was a priceless gift that they gave to my girls and I.
PK was their first grandchild. They loved him so much and found so much joy in him. We all would laugh when we would look back on PK’s first Christmas as the only grandchild. My son was literally surrounded in gifts from my parents. They were so very excited. With each of my children, they have truly celebrated every first, cheered on each activity, and treasured the wonderful people that they are. Not only have their hearts hurt tremendously from their own pain of the death of their first grandchild and their son-in-law, but their hearts hurt so much over the pain that their daughter is in and that her two daughters are in. Yet they have continued to be a great source of love and stability to the girls and I. These are priceless gifts straight from their hearts.
My parents both grew up in a small town in North Dakota. They started dating when my mom was a sophomore in high school. My dad has shared how a coach became interested in him when he was young and that is how he got involved in sports. Sports were a huge part of my dad’s upbringing and stability. My dad needed that due to difficult and painful times at home. He excelled in sports and by the time he was ready to go to college then he had a full ride available for him. My dad went on to become a teacher and a basketball coach for numerous years. I watched my dad try to help many young people through teaching and sports. He did his best to help lots of kids to learn all of the life lessons that are available through those venues. My dad’s work ethic is difficult to match or to describe. He works so hard and still continues to this day to provide for his family and to help others. I have been beyond blessed to grow up with the father that I have. I could not be more proud to be his daughter and of the man that he is. I love him more than words can express.
My mom also grew up with difficult and painful times at home. My mom has used humor to deal with many difficult issues in her life. When my mom battled breast cancer years ago, then her humor came out all of the time. I remember when I went and stayed with her after her surgery and all of the jokes that she would tell. She continued this when we were back with her around the holidays when she was going through chemo. The jokes kept coming. She definitely used humor to help her to cope with all that was going on with her body. My mom was a kindergarten teacher for many years and brought joy and love to many young kids as they began their educational career. My mom is a serious sports fan and was a coach’s wife for so many years. My mom always sat on the top bleacher behind the team that was straight across from the student section. My mom was most definitely one of the forms of entertainment as she jumped up and down and yelled and did so many actions as she was so involved with the basketball games. Our high school student section would thoroughly enjoy the Carol cheering. Through the years as my mom has cheered on my children in their events then this great enthusiasm has not wavered or diminished. Just this past week, my parents were able to attend many of MiKayla’s volleyball matches. At one gym, the lady running the scoreboard turned around and said, “I love your enthusiasm.” My mom will be moving and yelling and does everything she can to “help” the team. I often giggle thinking that she is going to be exhausted after! I will often explain to whoever is sitting behind or around us, “This grandma is from North Dakota and gets very excited to cheer on her grandchildren.” My mom loves her children and grandchildren tremendously. She brings joy and laughter wherever she goes and whenever she is with us. I have been beyond blessed to grow up with the mom that I have. I could not be more proud to be her daughter and of the woman that she is. I love her more than words can express.
For those of you who are familiar with the term Snowbird (a northerner who moves to a warmer southern state in the winter), then you can know that is another one of my goals for my parents!! I often ask them to become snowbirds. I continue to hope that I can convince my parents to be snowbirds and to fly south for the winter and to stay with us. However, I am acutely aware that my parents love where they live, their friends, and their community which is only 45 minutes from where they were born and raised. I still giggle when I think back to a comment my mom made years ago. My brother was living in Nebraska, my sister was living in Chicago, and I was living in the south. One of her friends said to her, “Wow Carol! You have really given your children wings.” My mom with a very typical response stated, “Well I wish that I could clip them.” LOL. That’s my mom. Her humor makes us all laugh.
This past summer we celebrated my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Their marriage is definitely something to celebrate. My parents are true friends to each other. They are committed to each other, and they love each other unconditionally. Their love has stood the test of time. They love each other and are committed to each other while knowing each other’s weaknesses. When my mom gets anxious or uptight, then you will hear my dad’s voice, “Carol.” He has been a calming force in her life all of these years. When my dad gets stubborn, then you will hear my mom making a joke and trying to lighten the situation while simultaneously attempting to change his mind. They have a committed marriage. They are true partners. They love each other and accept one another for who they are. They celebrate their triumphs together and try to help those in need. This is a true partnership. This marriage has blessed me all of my life for in it I find true love, joy, and stability. This has been a priceless gift in my life. As many young people like to say in today’s society, I can best label it as #GOALS 🙂
“Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.” W.E.B. DuBois
I have learned countless lessons from who my parents are. They are loving, genuine, and kind people. They find joy in each other and in their family and friends. They work hard. They take care of those they love and of anyone else that they can. They have stood steadfast in the midst of hard times and tragedy. They have chosen to continue to live in faith and love despite heartbreak and unanswerable questions. These are two people that I have the utmost respect and love for. I could not be prouder of the people that they are. They are truly a priceless gift in our lives. I thank God for them every day. I love them both more than words can express.
Thank you seems so inadequate mom and dad for the years of sacrifice and love that you have given to your family and to one another. Thank you for being true role models. Your children are truly blessed to have grown up with you as our parents. Thank you both from every part of me for being with the girls and I on our journey.
#noexcusesnoregrets #forevergrateful #ourjourneycontinues