Some of my earliest memories I have are learning to ride a bike. I wasn’t able to learn at home because my only riding space was a gravel driveway that intimidated me way too much. So, one of the many weekends I spent in Springfield with you, I brought my bike along. All I can remember is riding in circles around the cul-de-sac with one of you behind me because I was too scared of you letting go. Then I was finally released, and I rode right into a dumpster. Now, maybe I’m exaggerating about running straight into it, but I know there was a dumpster involved and I ended up on the ground. Despite my best efforts to never again get on a bike, you encouraged me to get back on, and I learned how to ride that bike. It may not seem like much, but that moment has stuck with me throughout my entire life.

My life has been a rollercoaster to say the least, but the one constant in it all was you guys. From the countless tearful calls I made to you at late hours of the night, to the innumerable pep talks you gave me over the phone, all you guys have ever done is support me. Throughout middle school, every time I received a report card, you guys somehow knew, and called me after school to read off my grades. You guys never ceased to make sure I felt loved and that I knew that someone was proud of me. In high school, no matter what I was going through, whether it was boy drama, friend drama, or literally anything else, you were always there to lend an ear. If I got a bad grade, you were the ones I called because I knew that there was nothing that I could do to make you any less proud of me, and honestly, without that support, I’m not sure I would be the person I am today.

Two summers ago, when you took me to tour Mizzou, and I told you immediately that that was where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life, and you told me that we would make it happen. And now, here we are, I’m a freshman at Mizzou! And I most definitely couldn’t have done it without you.

Pop Bob,

Thank you for being my dad. Thank you for stepping up when no one else wanted to. Thank you for being the most rational and loving person I know. When I was freaking out or just needed someone to talk to, you were the first person I wanted to call. You’ve never ceased to amaze me in how hardworking you are and you’ve never doubted me for a second, even when there was no reason for you to believe in me. I have no idea where I’d be if you weren’t in my life, but all I can say is thank you.

Nana,

I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve always been a Nana’s girl. From the time I was an infant, you’ve been the one that was able to calm me down, your home was the place I wanted to go and never wanted to leave. Thank you for the ungodly amount of time you’ve spent trying to make me the best version of me I can be. Thank you for being so proud of me and believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself. You are who I strive to be when I “grow up.” I can’t imagine being as good as you, but I’m definitely going to try.

To the both of you,

Thank you for the hours you’ve spent listening to me talk about nothing (God knows I could talk to a brick wall if I wanted to). Thank you for letting me travel with you; those vacations are still the best memories I have. Thank you for making me the person that I am today. Without your guidance, I never would’ve believed that I could succeed as much as you always thought I could. Thank you for bringing me in. Thank you for making a place for me within your home. Thank you for making your home, my home, too.

You two are the greatest people I know. You’ve made me laugh and cry, made me mad, but also made me the happiest that I’ve ever been. You’ve believed in me. Fought for me. But most importantly, you’ve loved me. And that definitely couldn’t have been an easy task. You will forever be “my people” (Grey’s reference, in case you didn’t get it), and I can only hope that I become half the person that you guys are.

Love you so so much,

Stinky K. Bada Binky (Aka Stink)

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