30 Days of Thanks Day 24 – Sam and Dolly

I wrote about my amazing parents last year to start my 30 Days of Thanks. My mom, known as Dolly, and my dad, Sam, deserve recognition once again this year.

I am the person I am today because of the lessons, gifts and blessings bestowed upon me by my parents. Their belief in my abilities and encouragement helped me set and achieve goals.

Back in 1990, when I told them I wanted to be an exchange student, I never considered the fact they might have said no. I was sixteen, and needed their permission to pursue this dream. But since they had never said no to any dream of mine before, I did not really think about what I was asking them to approve.

Who lets their sixteen year old disabled daughter go live on the other side of the world for a year? Sam and Dolly, that’s who.

Granted, they didn’t make it easy by saying yes right away. The agreement we made was they would consider it, but I had to find a way to pay for the trip without touching the money in my college savings account. I was working a couple of afternoons at a local dressmaker’s shop. I spoke to my boss about my intent to travel and took on an extra shift to help earn additional money.

After a few months, when I started to attend the outbound exchange student orientations, they told they would sign the permission paperwork. In my teenage naivete, I questioned why it took so long for them to decide. It wasn’t like I was going to be completely on my own. I was going to stay with Rotarians – what could go wrong?!

Now that I am an adult, I have a better understanding of their fears and apprehension. I was (still am) their baby, the youngest of their six daughters, and I had a disability. Of course they were nervous! I wasn’t going to be two hours away at college. I was flying 14,000 miles away, quite literally half way around the world.

But they let me go.

Both of my parents shed tears when we said goodbye at the airport. Mom was full on crying, hankie pressed to her face, shaking as she gave me a hug. Dad was silent, a single tear escaping down his face. Cheeky me, all full of anticipation and excitement, told them not to worry. I would be alright. I would write every week. I knew right from wrong and would follow the rules. I promised not to do anything which would get me sent home early.

Eventually, they stopped hugging me. Dad put his arm around Mom, pulling her into his shoulder. I remember what he told her.

We didn’t raise her to keep her home Doll. We have to let her go.

Mom and Dad, I appreciate you giving me the confidence to go, to live, to say yes to life. You have given me so much love and taught me the value of working to fulfill a dream. Twenty-five years ago you said yes when I had this absurd idea that living in another country would be a great adventure, even though you were worried about me. You continue to offer me support when I try new things and pursue new goals. Thank you for encouraging me to advocate for myself and for trusting me to succeed. I love you.An older woman is sitting on the knee of an older gentleman. Both are smiling. She has brown hair and is wearing a pink shirt. He is balding, with white hair, and is wearing a red and green plaid shirt.

14 thoughts on “30 Days of Thanks Day 24 – Sam and Dolly

  1. Tears, quite a few. They truly are great parents and have always encouraged us in our endeavors. I could picture them at the airport as if I were standing right next to them. God has blessed all of us with these two special people and how fortunate they are still in our lives, caring and loving us. Happy Thanksgiving.


  2. Well, tears for me, too. I love that you still remember 25 years later what he said to her about letting you go. She will love this piece, and yes, cry a little, too.
    Love the picture of them. I second the blessing, and their health.


    • I clearly remember it because it was one of the last things he said before I left. After hugging Mom, he told me to have fun – to which she said, “Not too much fun!” We’ll have to share it with her this weekend.


  3. Tears three. I can never recall a time when mom and dad had doubts about my ability to do something and clearly remember the time dad told me how proud he was of my initiative and perseverance. “I’ll never have to worry about you” he would often say. They always gave us the opportunity to figure it out and as a parent, I can attest to the fact that that is a truly hard thing to do. Thanks Denise.


    • Two years ago when I woke up from my coma, he told me, “I guess I can stop worrying about you now!” I don’t think parents ever stop worrying though, even when they do give their children space to figure it out on their own.


  4. What a nice way to thank your parents…..recognizing their struggle and their goal in letting you go and telling them exactly how that’s helped you in life. Sounds to me like you were one lucky girl!


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