Looking out the window at the beginning of spring, the cycles of the year gently progressing, my childhood pops brightly into my thoughts. I had a great time being a kid, and I had a lousy time being a kid. What I am coming to realize is that the lousy times helped me grow up and become a strong person (back then it just felt hard!).
My mom, Rae, was born in a log cabin in Range, Oregon, a place that no longer exists. Her parents, Mabel and Lou Case, were of pioneer stock; their parents crossed the plains in covered wagons. My dad, Arnold, was born in Tacoma, Washington, to Inga and Olaf Anderson, who both came here as teenagers from Norway. All of them were seeking a better way of living freer, more self-directed and creative. They all faced and lived up to hard times, the moments of laughter and love seeing them through.
My mom went off to Whitman College when she was sixteen and was a Phi Beta Kappa by the time she was nineteen. She was a high school chemistry teacher by the time she was twenty! My dad put himself through Pacific Lutheran and became a teacher of music and geography. Education was a pivotal focus in their lives. They were both teaching in East Stanwood when they met, fell in love, got married, and had to pretend that they were not (back then you couldn’t be a married woman and be a teacher).
Then my dad learned to fly! World War II was raging in Europe, and my dad started taking flying lessons in a Piper Cub. He was so good he became a flight instructor. Then he was hired as a pilot for Pan American World Airways, and their world changed dramatically. No more thoughts of living in the Northwest and teaching together as life goals. They too became pioneers, much like their parents and their parents’ parents before them.
My world growing up revolved around my dad’s schedule. There were certain things we only did when he was home, like taking the boat out for fishing and picnics, or going to New York City to see the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. While my dad was gone, my mom did everything for us, and I saw all her strengths and competencies as well as her love.
What’s this story about? I guess I am realizing that what mom and dad gave me was something bigger than a safe and comfortable home, love, discipline, and opportunities to learn. By their actions, their way of living each day, they taught me that I could make my life be any way I wanted it to be.
They gave me the two things I needed most to make the choices that brought me to this spring day.
There are only two lasting bequests
we can hope to give our children.
One of these is roots,
the other, wings.
—Hodding Carter Jr.
It has taken a while, and many exhilarating, heartbreaking, and sometimes puzzling detours. Thanks to you and all you have given me, my life is immensely rich, rewarding, and filled with adventures, loving people, fulfilling work, and the faith to take risks.
Thank you for being my mom and dad.
1. What do you know about your parents’ origins and histories? Write it down.
2. What do you admire and respect about each parent? When you focus on these aspects, how do you feel?
3. What judgments do you have of each parent? When you focus on these as- pects, how do you feel?
4. When you look back at your time with your parents, what are you grateful for?
I encourage you to share your responses to the reflection questions in the comments section.
With love and gratitude,