A quick update: I’ve recently been having a very hard time here in Brazil, but I’ve been learning so much. I’ve also been having a lot of good times here and making a lot of new friends. I don’t want to discuss details of these events just yet because I want some time to reflect on them before I write publicly about them. Just know that overall, all is well in Itapiruba!
This blog is dedicated to my loving parents because I’ve realized what a huge impact they’ve made on me and my experience here in Brazil. At its roots, this post is about love, appreciation, and learning. These are two very influential people for whom without, my eight months in Brazil would be very, very different. I actually wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them. Although I know that everyone has different relationships with their parents, I hope that you can find some way to connect to this post by thinking about someone that you appreciate in your life, and maybe after reading this you will go and thank them for just existing, because existing can be really hard sometimes, anything more than just living and you’re already winning. I’m starting to truly realize how important our human relationships are and how much there is to learn from the people around you, so this post ties in very closely with that idea. In all that I’m learning, I think a really important piece is that I’m not seeing how much I already know, but rather I’m coming to terms with how much I don’t know, and how much I never will know. I’m really glad I’m learning that about myself from this experience because it meshes well with my curiosity. Speaking of which, I owe my curiosity, a huge piece of my personality, to my parents. Without further ado….
Dear Mom and Dad,
This is a thank you letter that I never wrote you before I left the nest (Bird pun intended, laugh it out people). I kept kicking myself for not writing it earlier, but now I’m glad that I procrastinated. Thank you, Dad, for teaching me that valuable life skill. I’m glad that I waited until now to write this because these past two months have shown me even more all that I must thank you for. Also, this letter is going to be public, on my blog, because I want to remind other people to thank the people in their lives whenever they can. I also want to show people what kick-ass parents I have. Brazil has taught me a lot about appreciation and being humble just in these two months. I’m realizing how important it is to express this, there are a lot of people I’ve wanted to thank lately, but first and foremost, you guys.
Thank you for deciding after two years of dealing with Ian and Emily that having another drool-covered, crying, hungry, squishy, baby-thing was a good idea. That decision will forever be the greatest mystery I’ll encounter, wait… no, your decision to have William after Emily, Ian, and I takes the cake. I’m glad you did though, he’s a pretty cool guy. I owe my life to you, literally. Now, perhaps this has crossed your minds, it’s crossed mine and I’m not even a parent, but literally every single thing that happens in your child’s life is because you decided to bring them into this world. Of course, this isn’t direct, and there are many things to be disputed with that logic, but at a VERY basic level, that statement is entirely true. That’s pretty terrifying, no? That’s a lot of responsibility. Hell, you guys left your crazy days of being leather-clad bikers, stirring up trouble, doing things you hope I’ll never find out about…(I will, by the way) to raise the four of us. Thank you for taking a break from the Triumphs and Harleys to teaching the four of us how to use a damn spoon. I’ll never make fun of your questionable technology skills again. In all seriousness, I’m so grateful that I can say you are the two people I look up to the most, there is no competition.
I wrote my college essay about you being in jail because I couldn’t justify not telling my potential universities about one of the most influential situations in my whole life. Whenever I start to reason with myself about why it’s okay to lie, or why it’ll be okay if I don’t tell the whole truth to make things easier, I remember what you taught me. I bet you never thought you would be locked away for something you didn’t do, I didn’t. Thank you for never backing down and lying, even though you could have to make your sentence easier. I understand that you could have pled guilty, agreed to anger-management classes, and you wouldn’t have had jail time. Thank you for teaching me to stick up for yourself, to not be pushed to your knees by a flawed system, to not take the easy way out, to tell the truth. One of my proudest moments was when you stood up in your hearing to say what you did, that you’re innocent. Honesty has been ingrained into me. I’m so proud that you’re my father. I guess when I was in eighth grade I didn’t think that in five years I would be walking down a street in Brazil remembering all the things you taught me. I didn’t think that every relationship with other people that I have has been affected by how strong you are, not just back then but now too, always. I don’t act the way I do because you told me it’s the right way to act, I’ve done it because you’ve shown me with the way you live your own life that it’s the right way to act. You’ve shown me that actions can speak much louder than words.
Thank you for making terrible jokes, I do too, it’s okay but they’re not as bad as yours by any means. Thank you for loving the ocean so much and passing that love on to me. Thank you for conditioning me to be a deep sleeper from dealing with your snoring from a whole different floor of the house, it proved helpful on nordic buses. Thank you for bringing Mom flowers that you pick sometimes, I promise I won’t settle for anyone that doesn’t treat me how you would want them to treat me.
I talk about you all the time. All my friends love you and we all refer to you as Momma Bird- even Husmann. You have brought so much happiness into my life and I’m so happy I look just like you. You are the strongest woman I know, it’s actually ridiculous how resilient you are. You’ve taught me how to take a terrible situation and try to make the best of it. Watching you go through all the training to be a CASA volunteer and having you come home time and time again just to say that families have cancelled on you after you dropped your schedule and drove for hours, has taught me compassion and dedication. Over the years I’ve learned more about your own childhood and I just want to thank you for turning around and helping other people. Between you and Dad I find endless inspiration. I remember the first time I saw you cry, when you came home from that terrible job at TJ Maxx that you had to start to try and make up for Dad not being able to be there. You showed me that it’s okay to break down sometimes and to let other people help you, even if you don’t want to ask for help. People have commented on my work ethic a couple times and all I can do is laugh because they have no idea what a hard worker is until they’ve seen Ginny Bird in action. Also, thank you for showing me what good food is because I don’t even bat a lash when people say “My mom is the best cook ever”. They always change their minds when they come over to our house for dinner. You are the kindest person I have ever come across, your kindness is genuine. I think I love planning surprises for other people so much because I’ve seen how happy you get when you make other people smile and I’ve taken this trait from you. Thank you for never getting angry at me for coming crying to you even though I should have known. I will one day find someone who loves me as much as you love Seamus (for those who don’t know, Seamus is our cat. Yes, let that sink in).
Thank you both for never really telling me what to do. I’ve realized that for years now I’ve been making my own decisions and I’ve had so much freedom compared to many kids I grew up with. Thank you for giving me so much trust. Maybe you just knew that if you did tell me what to do I would do the opposite because I have authority ‘issues’, thank you also, for giving me those. You made us work for so much and I’m glad we never had everything handed to us. Well, I guess now I see that we did have everything handed to us, life skills and character, rather than non-necessities and the coolest new gadgets. Even though I’ve quickly realized that I didn’t feel ready to be here in Brazil, I know that I am because of all the independence I’ve had growing up with you as my parents. This is the hardest experience of my life so far. There was no way I could have been prepared to come here, but you guys definitely did everything you could, without even knowing it.
Thank you for not even questioning me when I said that I wanted to live in Brazil for eight months and for supporting me through the whole process. I’ve heard so many people say that they cannot take a gap year because their parents told them they can’t, or for those that are, that it was such a fight because they had to convince their parents it was right for them. Thank you for always letting me choose. I often have not always chosen the best things, but I’ve learned so much from my bad decisions that I would never change them. I did realize how much you meant to me when I was back home, but I’m realizing here even more. I’m being forced to actually use all these skills I’ve acquired from having you two as parents. Resilience, effort, empathy, honesty, love, respect, manners… everything, thank you. Thank you for never bribing me to do anything, you taught me that rewards are often found in the work itself. That notion is so important for this experience. Thank you for not letting me even try to leave M.A this past year even when I was begging you, I learned so much from all I experienced. You both taught me to love challenges. I wouldn’t have decided to come to Brazil if I hadn’t developed an appreciation for learning from you two. Thank you for always being there.
Thank you for teaching me to stick up for myself and for other people and for letting me date anyone I wanted even if it made you want to punch a wall. Thank you Mom, for that time a boy called you to ask if he could bring me to his homecoming dance and you said “Well, if Aberdeen says you can take her, then you can.” You’re a rockstar. Your trust in my capability of handling everything that’s thrown at me gives me a lot of confidence. Thank you for showing me the Grateful Dead and for instilling in me an appreciation for the hippie life. I feel so empowered because you’re my parents. I hope you know how many people love you and how much I love you. I will not let everything you’ve taught me go to waste because I want to be like you and make a positive impact. Did you ever think your lifestyles would affect people in Brazil because your daughter wants to make you proud and treat people how you’ve taught me to?
I miss you more than ever and thank you for letting me know that I can always come home. Although perhaps that is what you want right now, for me to come home early… alas I cannot. I guess your lessons have backfired on you because you taught me to stay even when times are tough and so I’m gonna stick this one out.
I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate you and that I will make this year a positive one largely because of all you’ve done for me. When you miss me, know that this is all worth it because of all I’m learning and that this will teach me how to live a fuller life, and I know that is what you want for me. Thank you for always cheering me on.