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I am one of only a handful of people I know whose parents are still married to each other. Believe me, my parents have had their trials and tribulations, but they’ve weathered every storm together.
It took me a long time to understand their relationship because they are so very different from each other. When I was younger, especially when I was a teenager, I could not imagine how my mom put up with my dad. He and I would get into verbal shouting matches that would’ve made George Carlin blush. I know you would probably expect me to detail how my parents differ and why my dad and I used to fight so much, but those things don’t matter in the end. What matters is that my parents love each other and love me, and loved me even when I was an irrational, angry and defiant teen. What matters is that they have sacrificed for me and my brother over and over and over again, and never complained. What matters is that when my parents realized that staying in Amarillo would eventually get me killed, they didn’t hesitate to move us back to Phoenix. We had a lovely home we sold, we had 3 dogs and could only bring 1, and most importantly, my brother and his family were a mere 10 minutes away. My parents LOVED getting to watch their granddaughters growing up and were looking forward to their first grandson. It was not a small decision to leave our home town and our family to move back to a city we had never really found our place in and knew no one, but my parents did it without a second thought, so that I could get decent medical care.
My parents have sat by my bedside in ERs more times than I can count. They’ve had to sit out in a waiting room while I was in surgery 7 times. They’ve sat in my hospital room, doing crossword puzzles and cryptograms and watching crappy TV while I was zoned out on medications, just so I wouldn’t be alone. I cannot imagine what they’ve gone through, having to watch their baby go through the rigors of Crohn’s disease and the pain of Fibromyalgia and the horror of cancer. They have both shown more strength than one could imagine was humanly possible, and they’ve done it all for me, without asking and without complaint.
It is not easy to have 3 grown adults living under one roof, especially with our very different personalities, but we’ve learned to understand each other’s needs and we are all very good at going to our respective corners when the needs arise.
I’m 12 years past 18, past the point where I should’ve been out on my own, taking care of myself and my parents should be blissfully growing old together, retired and tramping around the country in an RV. I am 30 years old and my mother has to help me do my laundry and clean my room and dust, and has had to take care of me when I’ve been in utter torment, utter heartbreak and utter bitterness. She has had to help me bathe, cleaned some truly disgusting wounds and attend to the more undignified parts of Crohn’s and she has never once gotten impatient or fed up with me and does everything with a smile because she loves me. My father has had to fight my battles for me more times than I can count. He is the one who has no qualms about yelling at doctors and calling hospital administrators and insurance companies to get me the care I need. He works a job he hates because I can’t work at all. Every day he is subjected to hateful people who say the most horrible things to him, and he takes it because of me.
I have friends who love me and whom I consider family and I have family that loves me more than words can say, but it’s my parents who are down in the trenches with me, fighting the good fight and never whining about the unfairness of the war. They were the first people to love me, and they’re the ones who show me, on a daily basis, what it means to truly love another person, and what it means to be truly loved. Everything I am, everything I have and everything I will ever be is because I was born their daughter. For that, I am eternally grateful.