When I was talking to my Mum on the phone the other night she mentioned how proud she is of my sister and I and got a bit teary. And I realised that I hadn't said what I wanted to say to her. So this post is going to be about my immediate family and what they mean to me.
I'll start with my sister, Angela. Angie is about two years younger than me and is currently in Italy doing her PhD. We're not exceptionally close - we communicate sporadically (mostly through Facebook) and don't always get on fabulously when we're together in person - but I still love her and am proud of her. She is a volcanologist and her Masters thesis was about blue-sky eruptions. My sister has worked incredibly hard to get to where she is: from working full-time while doing her Bachelors degree, to having to restart her Masters at a different university, to networking and fundraising her arse off to first go to Hawaii to study volcanoes and then to get to Italy...I know she's been a bit down recently and has been having problems getting her PhD off the ground, but believe me sis when I say how very proud I am of you. Anyone I know will tell you how I'm always going on about my little sis in Italy doing her PhD! We're all behind you and supporting you and wishing the best for you.
Next, my parents. First, let's consider them as a couple. My parents are white, middle-class, with stable employment and no alcohol or other problems; they're also still together after nearly 40 years of marriage, in a relationship that started when they were high school sweethearts. All of those things make my sister and I incredibly lucky and privileged. But apart from the demographics...They were also loving and positive and supportive. They argued of course (any couple who says they never argue about anything is either lying, fictional, delusional, or just very boring, in my opinion), but were never abusive. They provided us with everything we needed and just enough of what we wanted to make us happy without being spoiled. They provided us with a safe and nurturing environment. And they taught us how to think for ourselves and be confident in our abilities.
As I've said before, I'm a Daddy's Girl. My Daddy was very protective of Angie and I, perhaps because he only had daughters. He always carried a photo of the two of us together when we were little (and still does, as far as I know). When I was about nine, I made him a keyring in school out of two pieces of perspex glued together and cut into a wonky rectangle. It wasn't anything fabulous but he used that keyring for years and years. I think it's fallen apart now (although I'm sure Mum will correct me if I'm wrong!). Once I became a difficult teenager, he didn't like me wearing revealing clothes and had very strong opinions on my boyfriends. He always encouraged me to do more than I thought I could. When I said I wanted to be a school counselor, he told me I should be a psychiatrist instead (I didn't end up doing either, but that's another story). When my first marriage fell apart, he didn't ask any questions: he just drove 9 hours and picked up me and my dog. And when I got married for the second time, he was there to give me away again and give us his blessing. Through it all, I don't remember him ever being critical of our appearance or our choices. To my Daddy, his "three girls" are always beautiful and smart. He was always loving to my Mum and loved giving her little gifts and spoiling her, and greeting her with a hug and a kiss when he got home from work. None of my boyfriends have ever been able to measure up to my Daddy in my eyes, or been good enough for me in his.
Finally, my Mum. I'm very similar to my Mum, and not just in appearance. Our personalities are also very similar and we have similar ways of thinking and relating to people. When I was a difficult teenager, this meant that we didn't always get on that well. But now the older I get the more I appreciate my Mum. I'm finally at the stage where I can talk to her about pretty much anything. When I was little, I used to hate it when people told me I looked like her. I wanted to look like myself, I wanted to look interesting and special. But now I appreciate it for the compliment it is. My Mum is a gorgeous, strong, inspirational woman who has shown me that I am beautiful and instilled in me my love of learning and self-improvement. She is so positive and friendly and outgoing and just generally cool (OMG, I can't believe I called my Mum cool, but she *is* on Facebook, after all!). Mum has always supported my choices and always been there when I've needed an ear or a pick-me-up. I appreciate her more every day.
I love my family and miss them every day, but know that they are only a phone call or email away. I know that I am incredibly lucky to have what I have. I love you guys!