I’ve written with fondness about my childhood several times in this space. I am so grateful for the wonderful life my parents provided for me and my younger brother growing up. It certainly wasn’t perfect, but there was far more good than bad.
I had a chance to celebrate both of my parents this weekend, with my Daddy’s birthday on Saturday and Mother’s Day on Sunday. They are divorced, but still friendly, and I have a close relationship with each of them.
They have given me many gifts over the years, and continue to do so all the time. (Not just financial, although there were plenty of those, too. Being a single mom would have been MUCH tougher without their help in that department, l'm here to tell you.)
Yep, Mother and Daddy have given me innumerable gifts of affection, support, understanding and wisdom, all of which I will never be able to pay back. I love 'em both to pieces, and this weekend’s festivities got me to thinking about what aspects of my own personality I’ve inherited from them.
Don’t get me wrong, these are not all positive qualities. I got my father’s short temper and my mom’s propensity to worry. But for the most part, all the good stuff in Amy is a direct result of my parents.
For starters, I got my sense of joy and the ability to laugh from my dad. Whenever I meet someone for the first time who finds out I am Jerry’s daughter, the first thing out of their mouths is, “Your dad is so full of shit!” What they mean is, he is the life of the party and ever the joker. He’s got a razor-sharp wit and a charm that is infectious. He doesn’t take life, or himself, too seriously.
And holy hell, the man is hilarious. He would get us laughing so hard at the dinner table when we were kids that once my brother laughed himself right out of his chair and onto the floor. It would sometimes irritate my mother because we literally couldn’t eat when he got us rolling like that. To this day, those family dinners around the Formica table make up some of my favorite memories.
I mentioned earlier the short temper I inherited from Dad. Sometimes it still gets us both into trouble, although we each have mellowed quite a bit as we’ve gotten older. I’m grateful for it, though, because it means that I don’t bottle up my feelings. From my dad, I learned to feel my feelings, send them flying, and let them go. I think that might be why he’s happy most of the time… he doesn’t carry a stockpile of negative emotions around with him.
From my little momma, the most obvious thing I inherited from her is my height. We are both very petite women, which causes a lot of others who are not so height challenged to underestimate us. Taking a cue from my mom, I learned to take full advantage of the illusion of meekness our height creates, and then surprise the hell out of people. Mother comes from hardy Southern stock, and her inner strength has always astounded me.
My lil' momma is a badass when she wants to be. I would like to think I inherited a little bit of that, too.
Also from my mom, I learned how to be a lady. Just as people tell me my dad is a memorable character when they find out I’m his daughter, if I meet anyone who knows my mom, Janet, they always, without fail, tell me what a class act she is. And she really is. I don’t care what Professor Henry Higgins said, that shizz can’t be taught.
Now, I don’t mean that my mother is a stickler for which fork goes where in a place setting or other haughty conventions of social decorum. No, her elegance comes from the way she carries herself. She is very stylish, and always conducts herself with the utmost professionalism. Because I have also received many compliments along the same lines during my adult life and career, I’d like to think a little of her grace has rubbed off on me.
I also have writing in my genes, thanks to Mother’s side of the family. Her dad was a journalist and publisher, and she was the editor of her high school paper. I would be remiss if I didn’t publicly thank them for passing such a talented bloodline down to me.
From both Mom and Dad, I got my discerning palate and a flair for cooking. I remember sitting down to meals at school or at friends’ houses when I was a kid, and thinking, “How do people survive on this muck?” I started to wonder if I was a picky eater, but as it turns out, the food was just crappy. I was spoiled by the flavorful fixings prepared in my parents' kitchen, so I was smart enough to recognize garbage when I tasted it.
Finally — and most important — my parents taught me how to be a loving parent myself. God knows I have made plenty of mistakes in raising my son (he turns 19 next week), but I think he would tell you that he never once doubted how much I love him.
So, Jerry and Janet, thank you for helping to shape who I am today. Since I’m liking me a whole lot these days, I think you done real good. I can only hope that someday, my son will say the same about me.
I love y’all more ‘n mah luggage!
About Amy Higgs
A former newspaper columnist, Amy takes her random, slice-of-life stories to the web. After 10 years, she's still just saying.