This will be short because my parents are shy and they don’t like the idea that I might write about them on the Internet, spilling our family secrets, like that recipe for spaghetti and meatballs. It’s hard for me not to share something about them here, considering they are such a huge part of who I am and what I hold dear. So here we are, meeting my parents.
My parents have been married for over 40 years, which is remarkable in this day and age. I feel very fortunate to have grown up in a home with two parents who love each other very much and, despite the average disagreements that any couple has plus some more difficult times, were kind towards one another. I have fond memories of my dad chasing my mom in circles around the house trying to tickle her and her laughing so hard she cried. I can only hope that when Janie and I have kids they will know, as I have known, that their parents have always been able to laugh together.
My father works as an electronic engineer and soon, I hope, will be able to retire so he can spend his ample free time over at our house fixing all the shit that those bastards who sold this place to us broke and then lied about or covered up. I can’t really imagine my father not working, though, because like me, he’s a doer. He can’t sit still and is always up and about fixing things around the house or in the yard or is wandering the aisles of QFC. This man has deeply ingrained in me the love of a grocery store and all the potential deliciousness it has to offer. He’s a great chef and can make anything out of a pile of nothing. He’s like MacGyver that way. All the secretiest of secret family recipes are those of my father and if Janie ever leaves me she’ll have to be lobotomized because she knows too much about how to make some of our most beloved foodstuffs. Some of my fondest childhood memories are with my father including all the times he came to my soccer practices and games, even coaching for a few years, and getting so into the action on the field he was kicking into thin air. Since I was small, he’s been my guy, the coolest, silliest, nicest man I’ve ever known.
My mother was born in Germany and though she loves her homeland, the Unites States is her home and at almost any heartfelt performance of the national anthem, she’ll tear up with pride. If you throw in an American flag and some eagles she’ll lose all self control. She works in a job I know nothing about. When other kids would ask about what my parents do I’d happily explain that my father builds those planes you fly to Disneyland but he knows better than to get on one of them himself and my mom, well, she likes numbers. My mother is a financial whiz, steadily working her way up the ladder and building a hugely successful career. For many years she was the hardest working woman at a tech company in the capacity of CFO where she’d spend the occasional 36 straight hours at the office writing bids and doing shit other people should have been doing while they were playing Spider Solitaire. She’s probably the most generous person I’ve ever met and is also one of the wisest. My mother gives the best advice on resumes, working, being assertive, sticking up for yourself, how to do anything financially and issues surrounding what the hell is wrong with your hair. She’s beautiful, intelligent, witty and corny all at once. You’ll know you’re in trouble if she uses the f-word, because she reserves that for the gravest misdeeds, like cutting her off in traffic.
My parents met in Germany while my father was in the service. In the last month I was told the story of their first meeting and it was so funny and cute that the only way to hear it is from the mouths of those two people. For over 40 years now they’ve managed to stick together over ups and downs and through the thick and thin of all the bullshit their three children could throw at them. To know my parents is to know how thoroughly in love my father is with my mother. He loves his wife more than anything or anyone and it is sometimes so sweet that I have no choice but to forgive him for saying that if we were all drowning and he had to pick only one of us to rescue, it would be my mom.
No parents are prefect and my parents have never claimed to be, but as I’ve grown older I have come to see how incredibly hard they have worked to give us each a sense of stability, a set of exceptional values and the knowledge that no matter the deed we commit nor the harsh words we say, we are all loved wholly and completely by each of them. I might not have believed that when I was younger, but as I’ve ventured out into the world, I am shown each day the gifts they have worked so hard to give me and I’ve come to appreciate them more than they will ever know.
We have had our differences, my parents and I. No doubt we have said things that have been hurtful, but in the end I have come to know that their door is open to discuss our problems and resolve them together. When I came out to my parents several years ago, I was needlessly scared that all the gifts they had bestowed upon me, all that love I felt from and for them would be taken away and it terrified me. I didn’t trust that their love for their child was going to make this difficult issue one we would work to understand together, but the first thing they told me was how much they loved me, how they would always love me even if they didn’t agree with me or completely understand. I wish that every child, let alone a gay child coming out to his or her parents, would know the unconditional love that my parents have shown to me.
My mother loves shopping, world travel, clipping self-help articles out of magazines and newspapers and giving them to me at every opportunity, America, my father and her children. My father loves fixing anything he can get his hands on, cooking anything he can get his hands on, whiskey, licorice, his kids and my mother. They will make excellent grandparents, because they are both generous and total suckers for small children asking for candy or money. I will make sure our kids are trained well enough to ask for large sums of cash.
I spend every Wednesday evening with my parents now because not only do I value my familial relationship with them, but I value their friendship and the time we spend together. Whether we eat dinner together, watch a movie, work on their computer or spend three hours sitting in their car trying to figure out that god damn Bluetooth hands-free phone bullshit, I find myself feeling overjoyed at the idea that after all these years and fears I’ve had of losing them, we can sit together and laugh and listen and learn who we are as individuals and as a family.