30 years

What have you done in the last 30 years? That’s a long time, right? The world has changed so much in that time. Here’s what I’ve done:

Gone through middle school, high school, college, and culinary school.

Got my first job, got fired for the first time, moved for a job.

I’ve had my first love, had my heart broken, been in an emotionally abusive relationship, got married, got divorced, got married again.

I’ve had my gallbladder removed, my sympathetic nerve cut, a hole drilled in my head and part of my brain removed, and my vision corrected.

I’ve outlived my father and given birth to two children.

In fact, I’ve done all of this without my dad. I’ve mentioned my stepdad on here a few times and told you how lucky I am to have him and why I don’t like the term “step”, but the reality is, the reason I have him in my life is because my dad died when I was 10. 30 years ago. (Which is impressive since I’m only 26)

I’ve lived a lot since he’s been gone. I outlived him when I turned 36 , and had a baby the year after that. Let that sink in for a second, because it’s crazy to me. I know no one ever said life was fair, but how unfair is that? He was so young when he died, that when I hit that age, I wasn’t finished growing my family.

So much has changed in the world in the last 30 years and I always wonder what my dad would think of things. I can still hear him cussing out his dot matrix printer over and over for it being off line, how would he react to a tiny screen in your pocket that connects you to everything? ….including an inkjet printer down the hall. His versions of phones were attached to the wall and a mystery as to who was calling you when they rang. I know he would love it, but I know he would still swear at it just as much as I do, and I like to believe that he too would stay awake all night too many nights researching things that piqued his interest during the day. He loved science, and enjoyed learning new facts. In fact, he is where I got my love for science and math. He always taught my brother and I to question everything and not to just go along with what was spoon fed to us. Thinking independently was important. Gathering your own information and deducting your own conclusions was one of the main lessons I remember from him. He stood up for what he believed (or didn’t believe) and taught Shane and I to do the same. Admittedly, my brother is much better at this than I am, but he was a little older and had those lessons longer. I was ten, and the memories are fading faster as I get older, but the lessons will hopefully always be there. I remember talking about alien life, sanding cars with him, turtle rides in the pool, and gas station breakfasts when we were on trips. I know he refused to let us get baptized because religion should be our choice and not indoctrinated from the start. I know he had a quick and dry sense of humor that could put people at ease and drive a point home, and that it was often hard to tell if he was joking or not.

My family went through hell 30 years ago, and today is the anniversary of the worst day of my life.

My dad spent a year in the hospital, fighting a fight that he ultimately lost, but while he was fighting, we went down there every day after school. We would stay late and then walk back to the car in the dark in a sketchy part of town. Then we would get up early and I would go to school the next day and we’d do it all over again. Holidays, birthdays, all of it. We were there.

I know that my mom not only cared for her sick husband, a man she was together with since high school, they did everything together including worked together. (Gross story, I once walked in on them at work making out and they told me that that’s just how they started every morning.) she took care of my brother and I, and she continued to run the company they had run together. I don’t know how, but she still kept a spotless house, too.

I have learned a lot in the last 30 years. I’ve learned that I’m not the well adjusted kid I once thought I was, but actually a pretty messed up adult, riddled with anxiety. I’ve learned that your family is the most important thing on earth and to hold on to those you love. I’ve learned to question everything, and speak up or stand up when I don’t agree with something. I’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff and to really look at things to decide if it’s worth fighting for and worrying about. I’ve learned that I don’t have all the answers, but that nobody does. If someone tells you they do, they’re lying. There’s no magical age where you’re grown up and you have life figured out. The world is forever changing. The world of today is not the world my parents raised kids in, or the world my grandparents raised theirs in. Nor will it be the same that my kids raise theirs in. You just put one foot in front of the other and go through life, learning as you go.

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