Contrary to my sometimes/usual flighty/manic nature (I’m the first to admit it), I very non-chalantly told my Mumsy on Valentine’s Day that I’d finally received my diploma in the mail over the weekend. I’d already taken a pic of it to put on Facebook, but had for some reason not e-mailed it to my parents. I e-mailed it to my mom while I was on the phone with her, and she asked me to e-mail it to my dad as well. For some (THEY WON’T LET ME BE AN HONOUR GRADUATE @ KSU) reason, as hyped as I’ve been about graduating, I wasn’t excited about this diploma, and I’m still not sure I’ll get it framed. But my dad’s e-mail response a few minutes later made my day:
“Congratulations, it really looks great! Hope you are having a great day! Love you!”
Countless memories of what my parents have done for me to support my academic and extra-curricular activities have flooded my one-track, tunnel vision memory in the last couple of days. Here’s just a few of the ones I can recall right now:
-Mumsy signed me up for piano lessons in 4th or 5th grade, I believe. She’d drop me off at our church pianist’s apartment in downtown Valdosta and do I’m-not-sure-what (shopping errands?) while I was in the lesson for an hour or so. When Frank and his cat(s) abruptly high-tailed it outta town, our church music minister, Mr. Don, started giving me lessons. Mr. Don quickly caught on to the fact that I was practicing next-to-none, but nonetheless I was allowed to play with him during Sunday evening church services a couple of times. What I mainly learned from this experience is not to waste your parents’ $$ or the teacher’s time!
-4-H County Coucil Meetings: Oh, where to start with this one? The Lowndes Co. 4-H office was, and still is, off Hwy 84 in Valdosta. From Shiloh, there is absolutely no quick, short way to get there. Many a weekday night (once a month, usually), Mama or Daddy would take me to the meeting. I remember with certain that Daddy would sit out in the van and grade papers while the meeting went on. And then there was always the yearly bake sale auction, which I believe was in February (wow, I’m getting old!). If I personally submitted anything to said auction, it might as well’ve been submitted under Barb Tucker’s name, b/c it’s still a well-known fact that I don’t know my way around a kitchen, unless I’m making Rice Krispy Treats in the microwave (my “specialty”). Being taken to these meetings is a memory that especially sticks out for me, because not once was I ever told, “No, we can’t take you” when I wanted to go to the meeting on a random Tuesday night. I was president of my school 4-H club in 6th and 12th grade, and that wouldn’t have been very possible without the support of my parents, and attending County Council meetings. I even had a burfday cake at the meeting in April of my 11th or 12th-grade year (which must’ve fallen on my burfday on April 8th–I’ve still got pics of me blowing out the candles on my cake at the meeting).
-Both my parents worked and donated to the fundraising chicken dinner after church one Sunday in support of our youth group’s mission trip to Jamaica (in ’95, I believe). Because I was at a 4-H conference that weekend, I was refused “credit” for working the fundraiser, and my parents had to pay the difference on my plane ticket to Jamaica. All this wasn’t made clear until after the fact, and I most likely would’ve skipped the 4-H conference had I know it would’ve cost my parents $500 or so. In retrospect, it was a blatantly unfair situation, but never once did I hear Bob or Barb say, “We wish you wouldn’t have gone to the 4-H conference.” That wasn’t in their vocabulary.
-Once I started running cross-country in 9th grade, it quickly became apparent to both my parents that either it wasn’t really a “spectator sport,” per se, or that I wasn’t really a fan of being loudly cheered on after running 3+ miles. That didn’t stop them from waking me up super-early every Saturday morning during the fall and taking me up to LHS to catch the bus for the meets before I turned 16. I also ran track for a couple of years, and one of those meets was during the time my Nana was very sick and dying from cancer. I’ll never forget my dad showing up in Blakely, GA, if I remember correctly, to pick me up and take me to nearby Colquitt to join the rest of the family around her side. Again, I was never once told, “No, you can’t do this,” or “No, we can’t take you or pick you up.” I think the one cross-country meet I missed as when my Pop-Pop was marrying his step-wife, GranOla, and I wouldn’t have missed that for the world. I was also picked up from countless after-school wrestling cross-country, and track practices, when I had to be fetched before I got my driver’s license. Daddy also took me to the VSU pool after school for water therapy when I hurt my groin muscles during my 10th grade year. I still got a letter jacket for cross-country that year and have never understood why, but sometimes miracles happen!
-Daddy took me on a “tour of colleges” during the fall of my senior year. This is a very bittersweet memory, because I remember being literally nauseous at the prospect of starting college. (Plus, the cross-country season had just ended, and for lack of a better term I was experiencing a very emotional let-down.) We toured Young Harris, UGA, Warren Wilson in NC (where I had my naive heart set on, mainly because I got dozens of flyers from them in the mail), and not to mention I recall us swinging by a couple of other SC and GA colleges along the way. We also spent the night at Lake Junaluska in NC, and I’ll never forget the cinder block walls in that hotel room (it’s a Methodist retreat center, after all). My dad taking the time to do this with me one-on-one is something that I’ve never completely understood or fully appreciated, since he had three younger daughters at home and a job that I know he had to take off of that Friday. The bizarro thing is that I ended up picking a junior college where I was offered a Presidential Scholarship and a church job I ended up hating (on all three accounts), but I think all of us would do things over a different way if we had the opportunity to do so in uncomfortable, awkward situations like that.
I’ll stop here, mainly because my eyes are honestly blurry with tears that I refuse to let stream down my face. Might I just say that I have the world’s most supportive parents, and that even when I tried to repay them for the couple of thousand dollars I owed them for my last 1.5 years at school, Mumsy quickly countered with, “Consider it a gift, and we’re just so proud you’ve graduated.” So this diploma’s as much my parents’ as it is mine, if not more. If they’ll actually frame it, maybe I should just have it put up in Shiloh, preferably above the fireplace mantle! (Bad joke…I’ll get a bootleg copy made and they can put it in the hallway if they so desire.)
Here’s to Bob & Barb, and I love you both more than you’ll ever know or that I’ll say out loud,
Your (FINALLY GRADUATED!) Son, brt