Mom & Dad

If you know my parents, you know they are kind, heartfelt, adventurous, happy, intelligent, and most import, loving people.

I’ve known this about my parents for a long time–to say the least, my relationship with them has been about as good as you can ask for. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been raised in little Mancos under a roof by my mom, Deb and my dad, Peter.

And yet, even knowing the great hand I was dealt in terms of family, I sometimes take my fortune for granted. After moving home for a few months and through this cycling trip thus far, my parents have been nothing but supportive, inspiring, and loving–reaffirming the fact that they are amazing individuals and deserving of much more than they ask.

At 24 years old, I can see how it would be easy to live a life that is fairly disconnected from my parents…calling home dutifully every week or two to “check in” and making the tri-annual trips home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the floating I should probably visit home soon trip that usually falls at the beginning of summer. Home can be hard and frustratingly slow compared to the lives we’ve created for ourselves in college or in the metropolitan areas in which we’ve ‘settled’. I most definitely fell into this detached relationship with my parents during college and the few years after. Home had baggage, routine, and a lack of young excitement (as it should, I now believe).

My parents never got frustrated when I didn’t call for a few weeks or if I didn’t really portray what my life was like during our half hour conversations.They supported my sporadic ambitions and hobbies without fail and I have never felt pressure to do anything or be anyone. My parents trust me.

Admittedly, I was worried about moving back home for a chunk of time–what it would feel like, if I was selling myself short, if it was the “easy move”. Early societal conditioning taught me that moving back home was a sign of needing help, low self-esteem, laziness, and possibly even failure in some way. I’ll admit that at the time of moving home, I had pretty low self-confidence and I was wondering where I had messed up. Of course, in retrospect, moving home was not a sign of a mistake…it just sometimes felt like it.

After three months (that sped by way too fast), I am absolutely sure in saying I made the right decision–and my parent’s care, generosity, and energy are why I am able to say that.

Mom

My mother is a deeply empathetic and caring person. When people around her need something, her heightened parent sense and innate nurturing nature kick-in.

She is a master chef and an even better baker. Growing up, the dinner table was the centerpiece of our family.  Missing a family dinner had better be accompanied by a pretty good reason. In reality, I rarely wanted to miss dinner since it was always and predictably delicious, healthy food that brought us together. My mom was at the center of the meals we ate, the backbone of our nourishment.  On very special occasions like birthdays and holidays, my mom would bake pies–and those days were the ones to look forward to. I love everything about pie and what it stands for…which to me are love and happiness.  We never had cake on birthdays so to this day, cake seems like a bit of a false reward…why wouldn’t you want pie instead?

Thus far my mom has been a farmer; a shepherd (of sheep…which sounds cool to call your mom); an elementary school teacher; a computer programmer; a community organizer; a field cook; a baker; a pianist; and from what I have gathered, a pretty good intentioned misfit in her youth. She is a cancer survivor and an avid proponent of a healthy, active lifestyle of moderation.

Currently, my mom raises a flock of Churro Sheep, gardens, does what seems to me as a copious amount of yoga, and goes on adventures with my father. She is organized, task driven, and ambitious with her time. She is a birder (something I admire but still despise a bit based on the many hours spent waiting for my parents along hikes and outings as the birds took priority).

My mom is witty and quick to crack a joke or tell a story. She brightens up a room and always makes a space more comfortable and welcoming.  In essence, she is an amazing, bright person and a better mom…if that’s possible.

My mom has made some hard decisions in her life for the betterment of both herself and the people around her, especially her loving family. I am very lucky to have a nourishing role model like her–I’m not sure who I’d be otherwise.

Dad

Being concise about all my dad’s qualities is near impossible. This is because, in my eyes, he is nearly a flawless person. He is selfless to a fault, encouraging, busy, extremely productive, mindful, and compassionate. His family takes priority over all else.

As an adolescent, I wish I had been more aware of the lengths my dad has gone to provide a worldly, full, and sustainable life for all of us. He is still doing so and maybe even more so these days than ever before.

My father is a design-oriented thinker, a trait I emulate but to a lesser degree. He thinks things through, weighs options and comes to decisions that are clear, rational, and agreeable to just about everyone. I’ve known a handful of people who do this but what makes my dad stand out is his ability to shape experiences and help create moments for others without getting in the way of their personal desires and opinions.

He is a master of understanding what is going on around him. I like to call people like him ‘super-aware’. You probably know a few folks like this who are living completely in the moment while simultaneously planning a few steps ahead. They seem to know what you need/want maybe even before you do. They understand delayed gratification and always make decisions that will have the greatest positive effect, even if that effect comes down the line. There are only a couple of other people who are also like this and I have found that I gravitate toward these people instinctually.

My dad has inspired me to pursue various hobbies and activities, all of which make me very happy. He makes little suggestions and asks for little favors intentionally to help guide me during one of my projects. He turns almost all tasks into learning experiences. For instance, we built a shed this summer while I was home to store all my stuff and to add some more shelf space for my parents’ ever-growing accumulation of things. He worked around my schedule, asked for help only when he knew I was able, and throughout the entire process, made sure I was understanding what we were doing. I learned the basics of framing and general construction, but more importantly, I felt empowered in my ability to build something similar down the road. I know this was intentional on my dad’s part.

In his earlier years, my dad was a strong swimmer, a daring skydiver, a rock climber, and as far as I can tell, the life of a party. Somethings have changed (he doesn’t skydive and neither of my parents are much into the party scene anymore) but some have not. My dad has always been a tinkerer which led him directly into his career as a mechanical engineer. He has helped design and facilitate the completion of large projects and later in his work, he acted as a consultant and an owner’s representative–a type of liaison between project owners and the contractors doing the construction. This type of work requires both technical knowledge and a mastery of interpersonal communication–thus, he is perfect for this type of work.

Currently, my dad channels his inner doer into projects around the property, planning and executing large backpacking trips with my mom, and designing a build-out of a Sprinter Van which should be showing up soon.

Even in “retirement”, he has a hard time sitting still. He is active in just about everything he does from staying in shape to political organizing.  And people trust him with just about anything. He is a natural leader and an extremely well-intentioned person. Most people have good intentions but I have yet to meet another person who acts upon them with such effectiveness and consistency. To say the least, this world would be a much more kind, rational, and well thought out place if more people were like my dad.

How lucky am I?

My parents are my biggest supporters and my largest resource. This current bike trip would have been impossible without them. They welcomed me home this summer and supported my efforts to save enough money in just three short months to fund my trip.

I can always bounce ideas off of them, seek advice, or ask for them to send me something I need. Just recently, they met me in Canyonlands NP and brought delicious food (steak!), resupply items, and bike parts. They were encouraging about the upcoming miles and curious about the pervious miles. It was hard to pedal away the next day–like it is every time.

I keep my parents updated as much as I can. I owe a lot to them and the last thing I want is to create undue stress at home. I know they worry but I also know they are proud. If there is anything that motivates me to get out of the sleeping bag in the morning or push through the last few miles after a hard day, it is the knowledge that my parents are proud of me and they support what I am doing. I can’t imagine doing this trip without their love and support.

I love you, Mom and Dad.

-Graham

 

2 thoughts on “Mom & Dad

  1. Ok so just catching up on some of your blogging. This one to, of, for, your parents brought a tear to my eye. I think some of these photos may even have been from the Camp Happy tarp at TBF (or another similar event). As I write this it is Thanksgiving week and we all are preparing for Thursday and a week of gratitude with, for and because of friends and family. So this post seems appropriate to have stumbled upon today. I hope wherever you are this week Graham you know that you are surrounded by love and gratitude for YOU for the man you are and are becoming and for the gift of your Spirit in the world. Peace to you and much gratitude. Camp Happy Amy

    1. Hey Amy!
      Well happy belated thanksgiving! And you are correct, those photos are from this year’s TBG. When looking through my photos, those were the ones wherein my parents were the happiest…camp happy is an apt name 🙂 I’ve been thinking about that place a lot and getting excited for next year!

      I hope all is well with you!

      Love,
      -Graham

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