I bought these Junior Mints a few weeks ago at Paper Source when I was picking up some birthday cards. They were an impulse buy, and I was drawn to the colors, the kind of candy, and the nostalgia. See, Junior Mints were Dad’s favorite candy. He wasn’t a big candy guy, but these were his go-to. I’m not sure he would have gone for the pastel, limited edition, however; he was more of a classic guy. His memory smacks me over the head at random times, and this was one of them.
I lost my Dad close to twelve years ago to lung cancer. He was diagnosed as stage four after a few weeks of coughing, and we lost him less than six months later. He was not a smoker and was one of the 5% of people diagnosed with lung cancer from an “unknown cause.” When my Dad died, I decided not to grieve his death. I brushed it under the rug, mentally. I put his death in a box and hid it in the back of my brain, and I postponed the grief. It wasn’t until many years later when I got healthier in all ways of my life that I had to deal with the pain. Even after all this time, it’s still hard, especially when I smell freshly cut grass and pecan rolls. Hard work and cooking were two of his hobbies. I guess that’s where I get it from.
When I think about this sport that I have grown to love (and right now at less than 50g of carbs a day, HATE), I think of my Dad. He was a very conservative and religious man. What would he think of the barely there bottoms and high heels? I laugh out loud as I write that sentence. I am not sure he would be in the crowd cheering me on (like my Mom will be). I think my Mom proudly told everyone in Annapolis, “That’s my daughter,” referencing the Bay Weekly edition with me on the cover from last week. I am not sure he would understand. I hope he knows that I am drawn to the sport for the hard work that comes with the preparation. It is 99% of the reason that I do it. The other 1% is for the abs, but those will quickly disappear after these shows are over, and I will return to a normal, more flexible lifestyle. The work is what I love, the challenge. And THAT is all HIS FAULT. It’s because of the Saturday morning list of chores each weekend, the early morning wake up calls, and the work ethic that he instilled in me, that I have this drive to compete. It’s why I had 5 W-2s from last year. (Not kidding). It’s why sometimes I have a hard time resting, because I really like to work.
I am grateful for that list of chores and every time I had to “wash the kitchen floor on hands and knees” to earn my weekly allowance. That list of chores made an immeasurable impact on me. With every drop of sweat I shed during my 5am cardio sessions and every time I hit a weight lifting personal record, I think of the work, the lesson. I hope the work that I do continues to inspire others. I know THAT inspiration would make him proud today. In less than 3 weeks, I’ll enjoy those Junior Mints backstage to give me a little sugar and carb rush before showtime. I’ll think of my Dad and thank him again for the impact me made on me as a child. It reminds me how impressionable we are when we’re young. It’s why I say to Gianna daily, “You’re so smart” and “You’re so strong.” It’s why I take my job as a parent very seriously and why I do hit the gym at those early hours. Every second I have with her is a chance to make a positive impact on her life the way my Dad (and Mom) made on mine. Parents don’t get trophies for their hard work, but if they did, my Dad would surely get mine.