To Mom, My Wonder Woman

To Mom, My Wonder Woman

Superheroes exist, and my mom is living proof.
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I get writer's block a lot, but I don't think I've ever stared at a screen longer than I have while trying to come up with the words for this article. I mean...where does one even begin to explain their infinite gratitude for the very person who gave them life?

I guess I'll start here: my mom is a little weird. She's obsessed with all things Jimmy Buffet and has a disgusting amount of flamingo items (including but not limited to: a flamingo tattoo on her foot and a Christmas lawn flamingo). She buys socks labeled with L's and R's so she knows which go on which feet. I asked her what her favorite animal was the other day, expecting something normal like maybe elephant, giraffe, or dog. Her answer? "Platypus."

Yup, Wendy is a quirky one...that's for sure. But man do I love her, all weird quirks included.

I often forget how lucky I am to have the mother that I do. I think a lot of times I assume my relationship with my mom is how everyone's is: rocky points here and there, but at the end of the day there's always this underlying sense of unconditional love.

Then every once in a while, something will happen that puts things into perspective and makes me realize how extraordinary my relationship with my mom is. I'll hear, read, or see a story and I'll understand how rare my mother's care, gentleness, patience, and wisdom truly are.

Every day, I see a new side of strength in my mom. Until a few years ago, I never really grasped how courageously she's led her life. Her mother passed away when she was young, and although she was raised in the loving arms of her aunt and uncle, I've come to see the tragedy in growing up without your biological mother despite how great another parental figure may be.

Somehow though, I think that painful experience is what made my mom into the unbelievably incredible mother she is today. She loves so deeply and fully because she knows the value of that love. I don't know how she managed to do it, but she really mastered this whole "mothering" thing.

Her courage is what I admire most. I'm a big comic nerd, and I love my strong female characters like Supergirl and Wonder Woman. I look at these powerful women and think of the strength, bravery, and resilience they have and I wish that I could know them and be them. But then, I look at my mom and I realize that I have my own superhero right at home. She's strength, bravery, and resilience personified. Her unyielding care and compassion are weapons far more powerful than any shield or sword, and she binds her family together with a fiercely loyal and unbreakable love.

My mother is the strongest woman I know. She's witty, understanding, wise, kind, selfless, and relentlessly optimistic. I have never known someone as passionate toward all the multitudes of life as her, and I hope one day I can grow up to be at least half the woman she is. She may be an oddball who's a little too invested in her bird feeders and tracking of the weather, but she's my oddball and I wouldn't trade her for any of the superheroes on my shelves.

I love you mom, and I'm so proud to be your daughter. Thank you for all you do and for being the kind of mother some people only dream of.

Cover Image Credit: Casey Wahl

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10 Things Someone Who Grew Up In A Private School Knows

The 10 things that every private school-goer knows all too well.

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1. Uniforms

Plaid. The one thing that every private school-goer knows all too well. It was made into jumpers, skirts, shorts, scouts, hair ties, basically anything you could imagine, the school plaid was made into. You had many different options on what to wear on a normal day, but you always dreaded dress uniform day because of skirts and ballet flats. But it made waking up late for school a whole lot easier.

2. New people were a big deal

New people weren't a big thing. Maybe one or two a year to a grade, but after freshman year no one new really showed up, making the new kid a big deal.

3. You've been to school with most of your class since Kindergarten


Most of your graduating class has been together since Kindergarten, maybe even preschool, if your school has it. They've become part of your family, and you can honestly say you've grown up with your best friends.

4. You've had the same teachers over and over

Having the same teacher two or three years in a row isn't a real surprise. They know what you are capable of and push you to do your best.

5. Everyone knows everybody. Especially everyone's business.

Your graduating class doesn't exceed 150. You know everyone in your grade and most likely everyone in the high school. Because of this, gossip spreads like wildfire. So everyone knows what's going on 10 minutes after it happens.

6. Your hair color was a big deal

If it's not a natural hair color, then forget about it. No dyeing your hair hot pink or blue or you could expect a phone call to your parents saying you have to get rid of it ASAP.

7. Your school isn't like "Gossip Girl"

There is no eating off campus for lunch or casually using your cell phone in class. Teachers are more strict and you can't skip class or just walk right off of campus.

8. Sports are a big deal

Your school is the best of the best at most sports. The teams normally go to the state championships. The rest of the school that doesn't play sports attends the games to cheer on the teams.

9. Boys had to be clean-shaven, and hair had to be cut

If you came to school and your hair was not cut or your beard was not shaved, you were written up and made to go in the bathroom and shave or have the head of discipline cut your hair. Basically, if you know you're getting written up for hair, it's best just to check out and go get a hair cut.

10. Free dress days were like a fashion show

Wearing a school uniform every day can really drive you mad. That free dress day once a month is what you lived for. It was basically a fashion show for everyone, except for those upperclassmen who were over everything and just wore sweat pants.

Cover Image Credit: Authors Photos

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We All Need An 'In Color' Conversation, While We Still Can

The best way to keep memories is to pass them down.

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I love country music, especially a little older country music that tells a true story. One of my favorite songs from any genre is "In Color" by Jamey Johnson. It's one of the most relatable songs for anyone from any background. As you listen to it you feel the descriptions and the emotions Johnson is trying to get across.

Jamey Johnson - In Color YouTube

The song starts out with a grandkid asking about a picture and if it's his granddad. A simple question that can start a vast conversation and pass down memories of old times. This specific picture causes the grandfather to start speaking on the tough times in the 1930s and life on a cotton farm. For me, I can feel the same way that Johnson felt hearing the memories his grandfather passed down to him because my grandfather has told me the same memories about growing up in the south in the 1930s on a large piece of farmland.

The second verse goes into the grandfather showing a picture of him and his tail gunner Johnny McGee. He gives the information that McGee is a teacher from New Orleans and he had his back throughout the war. Though my granddad has never gone into anything that happened overseas in Korea, he will tell you stories for days about Camp Roberts in California. There's even a large picture of Camp Roberts hanging in his house. It's understandable he won't talk about what happened overseas because some Veterans will just tuck it away and it's how they handle it; however, hearing the tales about his basic training, his time on a boat headed overseas, and seeing pictures in his uniform still mean a lot to me.

My favorite story he talks about is how he was used to running the fields on a farm just outside Phenix City and was used to running in the heat, but the guys from up north(especially Chicago and New York) would drop like flies from the dry California heat.

The third and final verse describes a picture from their wedding. According to the granddad, it was a hot June that year before telling how red the rose was and how blue her eyes were. For most anyone, you will hear about your grandparents' wedding day and possibly see some pictures. My granddad to this day still talks about how blonde my grandmother was back then. It just helps bring my emotions more into the song.

The one thing Johnson does say in the song that most people feel when hearing these stories or looking at black and white pictures is "A pictures worth a thousand words, but you can't see what those shades of gray keep covered, you should have seen it in color." There's a lot of stories I've heard from either my parents or grandparents and wished I could have been there.

The music video for the song is so simple as well yet one of the best music videos I have ever seen. It starts in Black and white with Jamey Johnson sitting on a stool playing an acoustic guitar surrounded by hundreds of black and white pictures. It just brings the entire vibe of the song together. After the second chorus, the video starts to change from black and white to colorized and you see the pictures in their true colors.

The first time I had a true "In Color" conversation my step-granddad on my mom's side who was the only granddad I had known for that side of the family was declining in health. I was 9 or 10 and an in-home nurse had been talking to him about all his life experiences and told me to go in and talk to my Paw Paw about them. I learned about his father died when he was 14 by getting kicked by a mule and about his many years of service in the National Guard. At that time I never realized how major that was but as I look back those are the moments I cherish and I will pass down those memories as well as the numerous times he'd run your feet over with his electric scooter.

In eighth grade, I did a project on my dad's father and pulled out a box of old black and white pictures. These pictures ranged from him as a boy, his great grandfather, his first car, him in his service uniform, on up to him in suits on his business trips for the Columbus mills. I was older then and around the time I cherished learning more about his life and wish I knew where that box was just to have a look again.

A couple years ago around my 21st birthday, I had an "In Color" conversation with my mother about my dad looking through pictures while drinking Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill wine. It had almost been two years since my father's death and though I'd had plenty of conversations about his high school days on the football field playing for ol' Dickie Brown to stealing Mr. Gays Batmobile to getting three licks pretty often. I'd even heard these stories from different friends of his from high school and hearing different sides makes you feel more and more like you were there. As we sat there looking at pictures my mom told my wife Sarina who hadn't heard many of the stories and I knew and old stories about her life and my dad's life till 4 in the morning.

In conclusion, pictures can be passed down from generation to generation but unless you go through and talk about them then you won't pass down the story happening in the pictures. It is especially important just to sit down with a grandparent, a parent, an aunt or uncle, or an elder from your church or community to learn wisdom and about their life. I've had times I'll see an older couple or just an elder sitting alone at a restaurant and will pay for their meal(even if you can tell they have the money it's just a respect thing) or just talk to them. It can usually make their day and make them happy to share about their life with you if they don't have anyone else to. So let's keep the memories alive!

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