My parents celebrated their 50th anniversary a couple weeks ago. As I was lying in bed one night back in March, this post came to me. . . and I knew if I didn’t get out of bed to write it down, I’d forget it.
I thought I’d wait and read it to them on their actual anniversary. But life is short. So I read it to them when I was in New York back in May. And today, I present it to you. . .
Dear Mom and Dad,
We don’t get to choose our parents. But if we could, I would still choose you.
I can imagine God up there saying to me, “Now Becky, I’m going to give you some choices here. You know, that whole free will thing and all. But I’m going to be honest: my vote is for these two. Let me tell you a bit about them.
“The theme, if I could give a theme to them as a couple, would be ‘Actions Speak Louder than Words.’ I’m not saying they’re going to be mute or anything. This Dad? Far from it. I’m just saying that you’re going to learn the most from them by what they do. You’ll learn by what they say, as well, but it’s going to be the actions that make these people the right ones for you.
“This Dad I’ve got lined up for you. . . He has an interesting way of using words. Sometimes they really work for him. And sometimes they don’t. Now, you’ll forget everything I’m telling you once I release you into your Mom’s womb, so I’m going to just enjoy telling you this stuff now for my own fun.
“Let’s start with probably the best use of words you’ll ever hear from this Dad.
“Ready? Are you listening?
“Here you go: ‘Let me talk to your manager’s manager.’
“I know, I know. What on earth does that mean? Well, it will take some time, but eventually your Dad will learn not to get so angry with people that can’t help him when he calls them. He’ll one day realize they are not the people at fault nor are they the people who can solve his problem.
“So he’ll cut to the chase.
“He’ll listen for their name. And then he’ll say, ‘Listen, Ben, I’m sure you’re good at your job but the problem I have is not something that’s easily solved. So you have a manager, right?’ Yes, sir. ‘Okay. Let me talk to your manager’s manager.’
“It will take a little persuading, but it will work nearly every time. Some really smart places that he calls a lot will even note this on his account. Instead of wasting any manager’s time, they’ll just write ‘Give this guy whatever he wants. We’ll figure it out later.’ That smart place? It’s called Pepsi. But no need to remember any of this.
“So I’m not going to go into too many details here, but let’s just say that your Dad will have an extensive vocabulary in areas that aren’t always the best in which to have an extensive vocabulary. Don’t listen to those words.
“Instead, watch him. Watch how he loves you and all your siblings. I’m going to warn you: you’re going to have a lot of siblings if you choose these parents. I’m not going to get into why or exactly how that all comes about. No children ever want to know that. But let’s just say that it will be a full house. And your Dad will love each and every one of you in so many ways. He’ll not only do all the grocery shopping for the family during your entire childhood, but he’ll show love to your mother by always taking one or more of you kids with him. And you? You’ll treasure those memories. To the point that, later in life, you’ll even forget the other children were ever on these grocery runs.
“And if you choose this Dad? You’ll not only go to college, but you’ll graduate not owing a single penny. He won’t be able to explain in words how he made this happen. Not because he doesn’t want to tell you but because in his eyes, this is not something you need to worry yourself with.
“Now that I think about it, this is really the top way your father is going to show love. This guy is going to, in his older years, eye people in the supermarket and try to figure out if they might benefit from help paying for their groceries. Then he’s going to go up behind them, insist on paying, and leave before they can even thank him.
“He’s going to help more people in more ways than you will ever know about. He’s going to teach you that one of the great things you can do with money is help other people. And enjoy doing it.
“Now let’s get on to your mother. You will hear this woman referred to as a “saint” many times in your lifetime. And yes, she too will show you many times how to give love to others in many ways, just like saints, but when people call her a saint they’ll be referring to her ability to live with your father.
“Again, he’s a good guy. But not the easiest to be married to all the time. Sometimes she’ll need to throw plates at walls in order to get her point across. But don’t worry about that. It will only happen a couple times and you’ll write a really good story about it when you grow up.
“So this mother of yours. She’s going to always be there for you. When you’re little, of course, but as you get older. She’ll be there when you leave for school and when you come back. She’ll help out in your classroom, she’ll drive you to dance classes, piano lessons, girl scout meetings, band practice, doctor’s appointments.
“But she will not teach you how to drive to any of those places yourself. She’s a very smart woman. She will hire a professional to teach you how to drive. In part because she’ll realize that being in a car with your father driving has probably taught you some things that need to be unlearned. And that’s easiest left to a professional.
“She’ll also, by the time you’re sixteen, have a fifteen, thirteen, eleven and seven year old in the house to care for as well. She might wish she could go out in a car with just one of her children for an hour, but will realize that she needs to care for her other children as well.
“Here’s the other thing about this mother of yours: people will also tell you she’s wise. Lucky for you, she’s going to realize early on that she never wants you, her children, coming back to her saying, ‘You told me I should do X and it didn’t work and it’s all your fault.’ So as much as you might be frustrated by it sometimes, at a certain point she’s going to stop telling you what she thinks you should do. She is so wise that she’s going to realize she’s done what she can and the best way for you to learn next is to make your own decisions and live with those.
“Now, she’s not going to abandon you completely if you ask her advice. She’s just going to ask questions to make sure you’ve thought it all through. And even better? She’s going to love you and support you no matter what you choose.
“Now, this also means she’s not going to tell you who to marry. So watch out on that one. Take your sweet old time. Don’t settle. You’ve got good role models in this Mom and Dad and it will take a little longer for you to find someone who meets the high standards these people will instill in you.
“They are not always going to get along, these parents. But that’s normal. They’re going to need to take off for weekends alone, leaving you and your siblings with your grandmother. But this works out well for all parties involved: this grandmother is something else. You’re going to love every minute with her. And your parents will come back liking you kids a bit more than when they left. And you’re going to write a good story about this whole thing, too.
“Oh! And these parents. . . they’re going to take you places. Sometimes they’ll regret doing so. But they’ll have some lessons to learn through all of this as well. . . So you’ll go all over the US with these people. And those other kids they’re going to produce.
“And oh. . . let me tell you about your siblings should you choose these parents. See, these parents are hot right now. Everybody wants them. So I can’t let you be the only one to benefit from these wonderful people. You’re going to be a little different from your siblings. Each of you is going to be different. Thankfully. Because I wouldn’t be doing anyone a favor by making two of any of you. I mean, you’ll all have your good qualities, but your parents can only handle so much at one time. . . my plan is five kids in eight years. But again, I won’t get into how that happens. You don’t want to know.
“So these other kids. I’ll choose them carefully for you. They’ll get the same speech I’m giving you. And they’ll see the actions of these parents and mimic them. All of you children will. You will all have some interesting ways with words–sometimes good, sometimes not so good. But actions? You will all be top notch. Yes, you’ll do things for others. Selflessly. You will all give of your time, your money, your love. Words will be exchanged between you all. But the actions? Those are the bedrock of this family, if you choose it. You will have this family of people whom you know, no matter what comes, will be there for you because you are family.
“Okay, kid. I’ve got other kids I’ve got to match up with parents. It’s not an easy thing. And sometimes it doesn’t work out like we all thought. We don’t always get it right. But I’ve got a hunch on these two. If it were up to me? I’d pick them.”
And so, I did.