I was going to use this blog to talk about the bestest movie ever, but I’ll instead go back to the well a bit and hit on the next topic suggested by Darren Barefoot and talk about the person that I admire the most. Well, in this case, it is people, and I do not think admire is really the word I would use to describe how I feel about them. But the answer (though it’s not really a question) as to the people I admire most is my parents, Ronald and Stella Eberhard.
No, I know that it is easy for someone to say that their parents are their heroes or that they are appreciated or “admired,” but I don’t think that I have ever really laid it out exactly why my parents are a big influence on my life. Sure, all the normal reasons are their: they raised me not to be a psychopath, they fed me, kept me in clothes that fit, made sure I went to school and learned, etc. But it goes beyond that. Even though I live far away, and we don’t necessarily communicate as much as we probably should, they are always there for me when I need them most.
I don’t think my parents have ever really told me no. Sure, they would give me the normal “no” when required, but with everything else… not really. For example, growing up, many of our (my siblings) friends had curfews at ridiculous times on occasion. What kind of tyrant makes their child come in at dark during the summer? As long as my parents had a general idea what we were doing, we could come and go as we pleased (within reason). As we left the house with vague intentions as to what we were going off to do, my mother always told us “Just remember what your name is.” Sure, Mom. Growing up, we really paid no attention, but we also knew that if we did something really stupid and had to call our parents, the fact that we had done said embarrassing or stupid thing was worse than any punishment that they could give us. Knowing that we let our parents down was often worse than actually doing the stupid thing. Needless to say, we never really did anything too stupid.
But it goes beyond that as well. Growing up at times was difficult in the sense that we were never really wealthy. My parents didn’t start making “real” money until long after most of the kids were out of the house. But we were never left wanting for anything. Sure, it would have been nice to have (insert something someone else had), but that’s what we had friends for. It would have been nice to have cable television growing up, but I suppose if I ever really wanted to watch Beavis and Butthead, I could go next door and watch it at Jeff’s house. Or a Super Nintendo would have been nice, but Brandon had one so we didn’t really need one. Or a box full of Transformer toys, but Steve Porter had plenty to play with. Et cetera, et cetera.
But we always were able to do what we wanted in regards to activities. We all spent part of a couple of summers at Mill Hollow; we played sports growing up; we went on business trips with Pops. Until Dad started working at the post office, we would go out nearly every Saturday, often to the Children’s Museum for the umpteenth time and spend all day with him, and eat Arctic Circle on the way home. Dad never ordered food of his own; he always just ate whatever we didn’t. There was the summer we had the inflatable raft and went to Utah Lake once or twice, or the Father and Son’s Outings that the church always put on with the biscuits dipped in grease.
When one of us kids would have to sell candy bars for a fundraiser, we knew we would always get at least $20 out of it because they would just by the box from us so we didn’t have to go back to school with nothing to show. Sure, we were never top sellers or anything, but we always sold something. Mom helped out with Cub Scouts on a couple of occasions, and Dad always helped me make crummy Pinewood Derby cars. Dad was typically home no later than 6 o’clock during the week and would be around to take us to our various activities, or catch for Stef and Kathy when they were learning how to become a pitcher for softball even though he couldn’t throw the ball overhand because of an old shoulder injury.
Beyond just being there for us kids, they also did inspiring things, or inspired us to do more. My mother spent more than half of her adult life being a mother; when her children were old enough, she went back to school to be a nurse, something that she had pursued before getting married to my father and had suspended to be our mother. She is still a nurse 15 years later, and probably will be until the change the locks at work and tell her to be retired. But her dedication to nursing was really just an extension of being a mother. I remember her struggling through some of her math classes, one that she failed numerous times. The only thing that kept her from getting her RN was the math. She pushed through and met the requirements and focused on being the best LPN that she could be and found her niche working with the people that she has been for the past 15 years. I wish I could find a career like that; hopefully I won’t have to wait nearly as long as she did, but my mother’s passion is one of her strongest traits that she has passed on to her children.
My father always challenged us to do well in school. Not necessarily directly, but I for one was trying to take harder classes so that one day he wouldn’t be able to help me on my homework. Never reached that point. No matter the subject (AP Calculus, AP Physics, History), he would simply refresh his memory a bit and help walk through the steps to completing that math problem, or understanding the concept, or just knowing some new angle to address in a paper. Because of this, he stimulated debate in the household, and as I grew into my rebellious, liberal self, we could have sensible conversations that usually ended with me calling him a Communist and me being labeled a Socialist, but it was all in good fun. He even got Willard to focus on school by paying him for good grades. Growing up, Pops was the smartest person that I knew. Now, he is probably second only to me. But I still value his opinion and knowledge in all things.
For these reasons, and many, many more, my parents are the reason that I am the person that I am today, for better or worse. They allowed us the flexibility to learn from our mistakes, but they were, and still are, there to help pick us up and dust us off when we fail and need a little help. They even came to a few of my Little League games, even though I sucked way worse than Stef or Kathy did at softball. But that quiet support was always enough, and they have helped me through many hard times in my life. I don’t know how in the world I will ever pay them back, but I think the best way to do it would be to raise my children the same way they raised me. They seemed to do an alright job on the six of us, and if I ever have the opportunity to have children of my own, they are the perfect inspiration on how to be a loving parent.
I could write forever on this topic, but I think I’ll stop now. I’ll have to save some for the book I want to write some day (#4).
I love you Mom and Dad. Thank you for everything that you ever have done for me, and everything that you will ever do for me. You truly are my inspiration and have shaped my life in more ways than I even realize.