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Friday, September 15, 2006

What Are You Proud of Your Parents For?

Posted by on September 15 at 10:00 AM

I would simply like to announce that my father, Matt Graves, was the number-one handicapper (he picked the greatest number of winning horses—93—of all the writers at the Albany Times Union in Albany, N.Y.) at Saratoga race track this summer.

I called him for comment.

“Why do I have to say I’m proud of it?” he said. He was characteristically curmudgeonly, already on a liquid diet as preparation for a routine colonoscopy. “What the heck should I say? Merry Christmas, everybody.”

He did say that 93 was a far cry from the all-time record for any handicapper at Saratoga, which is 141, and held by … Matt Graves.

It is, by the way, no small feat either that my mother, Marilyn Lance, this formidable, endlessly energetic, and beautiful lady right here (the one on the left), was New York State Teacher of the Year five years ago. She spent her entire, unglamorous career in the teensy, trashy town of West Sand Lake, N.Y., teaching the rural poor, a segment of the population that never seems to get any attention or funding, and she pioneered a team-teaching, social-mentoring project for her kids, plenty of whose parents and grandparents she’d taught, too.

OK, these are big things, so maybe not the most welcoming start to the “What Are You Proud of Your Parents For?” survey. Therefore I will downshift.

My dad can name that tune very, very quickly.
My mom eats lemons whole.

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As a teenager, my father ran a frozen cow carcass up the flagpole of a rival high school.

As a 20-something woman, my mom had three miscarriages before she had me. (I get upset when my Netflix arrive late, and my mom's ability to keep on trucking through three mindfucking disappointments seems ever more heroic to me as the years pass...)

Nothing. My parents are big losers. I guess I should be proud that I survived my terrible childhood and that the gun going off in an argument didn't kill anybody.

Mi madre was the 'Child Advocat of the Year' for the entire state of Wyoming in '04!!! Oh yea - then there was the part where she all-but-singlehandedly raised me and my FIVE older sibs while my dad drove around the country in an 18-wheeler. YeeeeHaaaaawww!!

My dad? This man - despite the flaws I see so easily - has some of the keenest, most compassionate insight when shit hits the fan. He pretends to be an ass 94% of the time in every day life, but when someone he loves is hurt, or a stranger needs help - he takes the helm and steers everyone to a place where resolution is at least visible and everyone feels safe.

Jen, I'm falling in like with you. My parents were always very kind to the girls I brought back home for them to meet. And they taught me to extend the courtesy when visiting elsewhere. This pompous verbosity is an act. They are now retired, living far away and when I spoke to my father last week, he said "I found a box with some old cd's of yours, pretty strange stuff."

My dad has self-published two novels in the past several years.

My mom, when divorcing her first husband, kept the Stones records and let him take the Beatles. She also was into John Fahey way before it was cool (although she loses some points for not indoctrinating me at an early age).

My dad was part of JFK's first Peace Corps in Columbia, served in the Korean War, and earned a bacheolor's degree at age 40 with three young boys at home. But those pale in comparison to how smart and interesting he is.

My mom didn't kill me when I was a stupid asshole teenager. That is a monumental accomplishment.

My mom is the best judge of character that I have ever met. She can tell within seconds of meeting someone if they are a good person or not. A secondary effect of this is that she has the keenest, most finely-tuned bullshit detector I have ever seen in my life. I basically gave up on trying to get away with anything in high school, which explains why I was drunk my entire first term of college. My mom also has an amazing eye for color and can describe in detail any outfit that she was ever photographed in. Ever. Even from her childhood. It's kind of charming.

My dad fought in the British Navy in WWII. His ship was off the coast of France at D Day. Luckily, his ass stayed on the ship. My dad is also the ultimate Jazz man and played drums in jazz bands for years. He passed along a love of music and a compulsion to collect it. He has stacks of old jazz records that he hides from my mother so that she won't try to get him to get rid of the ones he doesn't listen to any more.

i am proud of my mom for going to law school at the age of 45, while still teaching elementary school full-time, and managing to end up on the Law Review her final year.
i am proud of my mom for bucking texas public opinion and social trends-- she actually is getting MORE LIBERAL as she ages.

i am proud of my he bought me my first drum set.

my mom managed to insult the dupont family to their face over a friendly meeting over tea.

my dad can play any and all musical instruments set infront of him. he also makes wicked clam chowder.

My father taught me "Chantilly Lace" as a nursery rhyme. He loves babies more than anyone I have ever met. He has always been able to say "I love you" to me, which is kind of odd for as he is a good ol’ boy from Wyoming.

My mother has the dirtiest sense of humor on Earth. That is why she finds Jonbennet jokes funny. She nursed Hank Williams Jr. when he broke his face many years ago. And she has always made her love for her children known.
her children very obvious.

Sorry, me no type good.

My dad was T A Wilson, the Chairman of Boeing when it was actually worth something. He dragged it up from nothing to being a damned good company. so yeah, I'm REALLY proud of him.

My mom had four of us in the 50's and 60's, before the time of widely available birth control and legal abortions. She was temperamentally unsuited to motherhood, I think, and in a different world she might have decided not to have children. In spite of that, she took care of us, made sure we got our education, and loved us like children even after we got to be really middle-aged.

My dad always told us the jokes that were suited to our intelligence without worrying about somebody's idea of what was suitable for children. He wasn't Catholic, but he sent us to Catholic school because my mom wanted it. Then he made sure we realized that there were other views, that he was not going to go to hell just because he didn't go to church with us.

They were both part of a daily community that was bigger than most of us are used to. They belonged to lots of clubs and did a lot of service work on a regular basis. They were of that Depression-WWII generation that was willing to put aside individual interest to do what was right for everybody. As their generation dies out, we get to find out just how self-centered we are.

Hey, T.A. Wilson! My daddy worked for him, and I believe idolized the man. The proudest I ever was of my own dad was when his picture was in The Economist.

My father is widely known as the nicest lawyer in Vermilion County, IL. And he made my brother and I watch Woody Allen movies and vintage SNL episodes back when we were eight years old.

My mom has a mysterious animal voodoo voice that makes any creature alive smile and purr, from cows to guinea pigs. She also lost a leg in a car accident a couple of years ago, and has dealt with the experience with more strength and grace than are possessed by everyone else I know put together.

my mom comes from a strict east coat irish catholic family of eight kids. she was raised to be a housewife. i am proud of her for breaking free of the church's guilt and managing to raise me and my sister on her own, in spite of a lack of higher education and career options. she never remarried and stopped dating in 1976, when her then-boyfriend told her she needed to spend less time with her daughters and more time with him.

she also played abbey road almost every single morning when i was a kid. to this day, it is one of my all time favorite records.

my father bailed in 1969, when i was two years old (my sister just one) and i have seen him twice since then. he provided my mother with $100 per month in child support until we were 18, and a lifetime of daddy issues for my sister and i to wade through. i am proud that there is a spot in hell for him, should it exist (see catholic upbringing above).

My mom self-published a novel and has completed two others, put herself through college (art school) at 27 when I was a toddler, is completely unashamed to dance wildly in public, and has never dyed her hair, even though it went completely white in her late 20s. I have like eight grey hairs that I dye monthly. She also quit smoking at age 55.

My dad, after supporting the family with HIS FUSION JAZZ-ROCK BAND (really! they were the "Rhythm Method," which embarrassed me as a child) in the 1970s, then stayed true to his calling and slogged through two decades of being an audio engineer (books on tape, etc) before breaking into composing. He's now composed movie and TV scores for Errol Morris, as well as a Nova show about the sex life of rhinos.

I'm proud that my mom is open-minded and curious and at 60+ years old, she is gallavanting around the US taking summer jobs at various National Park-area resorts to escape the heat of Phoenix.

I'm proud that my dad is a good and dependable guy. You can count on him and that's saying a lot in this world.

I will attest to the radness of Jessiesk's parents.

My mom is super artistic, swears like a marine and has one of the most awesomely sharp senses of humor around. She also has this amazing ability to get complete strangers to spill their guts to her. Her specialty is finding out when people lost their virginity. It's a mystery as to how she finds this out because it's not as if she tells them when she lost hers or asks them outright when they lost theirs.

My dad is brilliant - one of those people that is truly visionary. He runs more than one company he started himself, yet he remains one of the kindest old-school businessmen around. And for whatever reason, children and animals love him. One of our friend's kids named her stuffed dinosaur "Rick" in his honor.

Oh, on a side note, both of my parents are aging ridiculously well. My sister and I totally hit the genetic jackpot on that one.

The details of my life are quite inconsequential... very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink. He would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy. The sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. My childhood was typical. Summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring we'd make meat helmets. When I was insolent I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds- pretty standard really. At the age of twelve I received my first scribe. At the age of fourteen a Zoroastrian named Vilma ritualistically shaved my testicles. There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum... it's breathtaking- I highly suggest you try it.

My mom turns 60 in November and lives off the grid in a totally wood heated solar powered home in the middle of the Adirondacks. She hauls, cuts (yes, with a chainsaw) and chops (yes, with an ax) cords and cords of wood all summer long gearing up for sub-zero winters. She is so fucking punk rock it makes me cry!

My dad died a couple years back but I'm proud he got her ready to do all the shit that needs doing before he moved on.

I'm from a huge Irish (/EasternEuro) Catholic family. My mom had to convert from Orthodoxy and was the one who actually went to church, excepting my dad's appearances on Easter, Christmas, and whenever any of us had a Confirmation.

It amazes me that they could handle bringing up so many kids; we were kept out of trouble, had good to great grades, sat down for dinner together every night, had chores, and were given a lot of freedom. My dad snapped the leash memorably at those times when we crossed the line of good/bad. The older I get, the less I can fathom their durability with us and each other.

We were taught to say please and thank you, and to exibit a list of common courtesies with eventually total ease.

Neither swore. Little fucking good that did me.

My mom was a great cook and was an adventurous eater. Thusly, I can make you a delicious dinner at a moment's notice, with next to nothing to work with.

My dad was a great exaggerator. This however was belied by wonderful charisma and quick wit -- which likely made decade after decade of scrambling for enough pay to feed and clothe us more bearable.

Sounds like Jen has/had some pretty caring and decent folks. That’s great, I think, but whenever I read or hear about other folk’s amazingly loving parents, it’s the same feeling I get, when a friend, family member or someone I know succeeds, a part of me dies.

Not to be a bore, but it would be cool to open a thread of folks who had shitty parents, but somehow still care for them; it’s always fun to read, that is, until it gets whiny and boring ( hi kid of losers).

Seme - I'm proud, but that doesn't mean my parents weren't losers. My dad was a pot-smoking, depressed drunk who couldn't manage to keep a job and alienated every single family member except "his ladies" - my mom, his mom, and me. I grew up w/o running water (you know that!), electrcity, or a phone...NOT cool - dysfunctional. My dad lost his leg driving a tractor drunk 1 year before he died of cancer and refused to call 911, cuz he didn't want them to find his pot plants! My mom put up with his b.s. and now has to answer to my punk little brother who blames her for his pychological scars associated with my dad's constant verbal abuse. I grew up eating food stamp and WIC food, got my first job through a program for poor kids. I know the poverty stuff doesn't make anyone a loser - but it did in my folks case. They were smart, educated, middleclass people that chose not to get their shit together. Heck, I think I'm proud of them for that too!

LH- though we have drifted over the years, I always knew you were cool.

Thanks for sharing.

I think everyone's awesome parents have their not-so-awesome fact it was kind of therapeutic for me to list the good qualities. Usually I'm all hung up on the bad stuff. The line between "shitty parents" and "amazingly loving" is perhaps not always so starkly drawn.

Word. Dust these comments off a little more and the darker parental-bits are right underneath. Our parents did what they did -- hopefully the best they could, at least what they could -- and now it's up to us to do the same for not only ourselves, but for our friends, lovers, kids and fellow peeps. Serious. It's the generational struggle played and playing out.

It blows my mind a million times every time when I reach an age at which I ponder my parents at that same age. Wow. white privilege is showing - when I said my parents were losers even though "they were smart, educated, middleclass people," I SHOULD have written: "They were white, smart, educated, middleclass people."

I spent most of the first half of my life listing all the bad things my parents were. Then I began to see the good things. Right about the same time I realized they were humans just like me...

My parents raised 8 kids on two $30K salaries with a $1300 mortgage payment that got refi-ed to hell to keep things afloat. Staying current with the bills was nearly impossible. I can't remember the number of times I woke up to no power or no water because my mother mailed off the bill payment a day too late. She could barely keep us fed.

And she raised us to be halfway decent people in a cracked out neighborhood laden with gangs, meth addicts, drug dealers and punks. She worked swing shift and my dad worked day shift or graveyard so a parent would be home for the kids at all times.

I'm proud of my parents for overcoming various obstacles to become rediculously normal and sparing me any real childhood traumas.

Although I don't speak to my parents very often anymore, I am more than proud of them.
My mother put herself through college when everyone else was there to find husbands. She became a medical technologist and then she married and had me. She has almost always worked and just recently gotten her bachelors degree in her field. This at the age of 58!
My real father? Not so proud.
My stepfather raised me and he started life as a butcher and now he's a Business Sales Manager for a tool company.
I'm glad they raised my sister and I to be good and respectful people with manners and grace.

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