I believe in thanking your parents.
I am twenty-three going on twenty-four. For twenty-two years I was too dumb to know exactly how lucky I’ve got it. From zero to fifteen I was a happy, loveable kid. But I was oblivious as a rock. I didn’t understand that my family’s restaurant business had gone from its peak to bankruptcy. I didn’t know that my father fought to keep our house with the big back yard that I never played in. I didn’t know it was by God’s invisible hand that my Momma and Daddy stayed married. I was sheltered from all that; I watched TV, ate food, and wanted toys. Momma and Daddy played with me when they could, and I was happy.
At sixteen, I fell in love frequently and a maelstrom struck the Shuman household every time a guy didn’t like me anymore. I envied that beautiful girl a grade higher than me in school with the beautiful boyfriend and the great life. But none of this was anything my parents could understand; they were fuddy-duddies who work too much. They’d just tell me that I am beautiful and boys are just stupid and in five years I’d laugh about all this. Miscommunication led to fighting – a lot of fighting. I’m now twenty-three going on twenty-four and glad to say I’ve smartened up about a lot of things.
I now understand that it’s a resolute toughness in those fuddy-duddy workaholics that constantly strives to rise above hardship. It stems from their roots. Momma was born in South Korea, raised in a one room dirt floor house with five siblings, little food, and an alcoholic father. Daddy was on the streets of New York at fifteen and as a child had to learn to fight for his right to exist in the world. They sacrificed and worked against the limits of their own bodies to overcome the panic of their younger days. Now, bouncing back from financial and personal disaster has made their marriage stronger, and I admire them so much for it.
Early on, Daddy kept bugging me to stop wasting my free time on friends. It was annoying. But now I’m twenty-three and, following his suggestion, work on my writing daily, read books on every subject, study the guitar, swim, ride my bike… I am no longer blind to my parents’ most precious gift to me, something they don’t get much of, something I always took for granted – free time.
And that is why I want to thank my parents. Thank you for pushing me forward with your love. Thank you for showing me that I am the only one standing in my way. Thank you for a great childhood. Thank you for every day giving me advice you learned the hard way. Thank you for keeping me humble and making me work on the weekends at our restaurant. Thank you for laughing with me now, even though we fought a lot back then.
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