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I taught for several years at a residential school for children with emotional disabilities before staying home after the birth of my second daughter. I returned to teaching, finished my Educational Leadership program in May of 2012, and now work as our district's Writing and Social Studies Coordinator. I have always loved writing and find constant inspiration from my family. Maybe someday, I will get to see my name on the cover of a book!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

#Slice 2013: 20 of 31- The Gift of Balance


During the month of March, I am participating in the Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. I have started a new blog because this challenge has inspired me to work on my own creative writing. This post is part of a series about presents that I am working on, inspired by The Twelve Kinds of Ice by Ellen Bryan Obed. My father had a serious accident eleven years ago and I have been trying to figure out a way to write about it ever since. I'm trying to through this series of memoirs about the gifts he has given me and my family members throughout our lives.

For other posts in the series, please head over to tworeflectiveteachers.blogspot.com, which is where I began the series.


The Gift of Balance


I definitely looked forward to my parents' visits when I was in college. My mom would take me to the grocery store and stock up my refrigerator. She helped me with the laundry and we all went for walks around the campus. When they came, I explored campus corners that I might not have gone to otherwise, since college students don't appreciate the surroundings as much as they should. My parents would take me and usually a friend or sometimes a few friends out to dinner and then, if my dad, had his way, we would go out.

My dad still loves to talk about his college days and he still loves to tip back his glass. He has a few stories that we hear frequently about his years on campus so it should come as no surprise that he loved the whole college scene and was thrilled to re-live some of it, even just for short periods of time. The partying life was an important part. Almost always, he'd outlast my mother.

"How about if we drop your mom off," he'd say. "I think I have a little longer in me."

 I'd take the keys.

Then the fun started. Dad had been a smoker when I was a young child and had quit his two pack a day habit cold turkey when I was around ten. At a crowded house party, I was apt to find him on the porch smoking and guffawing with some of my friends.

"Dad, what are you doing?" I remember saying. 

Looking like a cat with a yellow feather in his mouth instead of a middle aged man with a Marlboro, he'd stuff the cigarette into an almost empty cup of beer. "I'm just having a good time," was his quick response. "Randy here was telling me about his plans for medical school." 

My friends would laugh and high five him. They caught on quickly that he was a lot of fun to have around. He taught them how to roll a quarter off their noses and bounce it into a beer cup and he did his best to keep up with beer pong and thumper. I don't think they played those games much when he was in college, based on his skill levels.

"You have a cool dad," my friends would say both in front of him and after he got tired and I drove him home. I don't remember that he was known as the "cool dad" when I was in high school; I think that he worked really hard and work wasn't available to him when he was on my college campus. Also, he respected rules and we weren't legal to drink when we were in high school. I'd guess that our 21st birthdays were pretty liberating for my dad, as well as for us.

My father knew how to work hard, play hard, and set a high bar. While he was that dad at night when he visited, in the morning, he wanted to know about classes. He definitely preferred hearing about organic chemistry and my fruit fly crosses in genetics, but he also wanted to know about my education seminars. He wanted to know that I was working hard,  keeping up my grades, and enjoying what I was doing. Right up until I signed my first teaching contract, I think he held on to the hope that I'd follow his footsteps into medicine, but he appreciated my love for education and his goal was to set us on pathways toward happiness and success, hard work and fun.

He did.

Enjoy your gifts,

5 comments:

  1. Those campus visits sound like a lot of fun. I can picture your dad on hanging on the porch with your friends.

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  2. Melanie, these snapshots of your father are like tiles in a mosaic. Each one adds a new dimension to the whole picture; a picture of a warm, loving man with a wonderful sense of humor!
    Catherine

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    1. Catherine,
      Thank you for that feedback. I'm warning you that they are going to get sad soon. I need to go back and look at them all together. It has been an emotional and helpful exercise for me.

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  3. These stories will become a keepsake for your family. Your love for your parents comes through every time. The image you created with the yellow feather and the guilty look just cracked me up.

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  4. Wow! A whole other side of your dad! Your use of dialogue and details are terrific! I feel like I'm standing right there on the front porch, watching your dad play drinking games and extinguish his cigarette. Not sure I am ready for the sad part, but I know I will keep coming back because your stories are so compelling!

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