This is my mother.
I am the man I am today because I'm her son. Further, I am the man I am today because I'm one of her seven kids.
I'm sure she didn't know the scale of the adventure that was coming when she married this guy.
But she embraced it with everything she had.
I come back to the thought all the time that I am the man I am because I'm this woman's son. It's my mother who taught me to love reading. It's my mother who taught me to love art. It's my mother who taught me to remember my ancestors. It's my mother who taught me to keep plugging away no matter what.
My mother taught me to respect the natural world, she taught me that the unusual and foreign aren't bad automatically. Her inquisitiveness infected me from an early age and has left me with an enthusiasm for learning that's sustained me for 46 years.
There was a needlepoint sampler hanging in the living room of the house where I grew up. It read something along the lines of "The best gift parents can give their children are roots and wings."
I got that in spades. Thanks to my mother, I know where I come from and I know there's nothing I can't do.
I'm not alone in that. There are six other people in the world who are armed with those same roots and wings.
It doesn't stop with us though. My mother's embrace of adventure and novelty extends through her kids and into her grandkids and great-grandkids. We're testaments to the little girl who stood for a photographer against a fence in the 1930s. Every time any of us embarks on an adventure we're channeling you, the girl from Christy Park who believed the handsome guy who promised her the world.
You are deeply loved Mom. You brought me into the world sure enough, and what you did more than anything is gave me life and I can never thank you enough.