I grew up in the tiny town of Hundred, West Virginia (299 people in the 2010 census). My parents also grew up in Hundred and stayed there to raise their four children. I had a pretty charmed existence - a happy family, a good home, food on the table (great food - my mom is a rockstar cook). My family actually likes each other (even though we also can want to throttle one another at different times). I didn't really think about the work that it took to keep the family going. My life was great, and that's really all that mattered.
My parents are both extremely hardworking, and I didn't really appreciate it until I got older. My mom stayed at home while raising four children, and bless her heart that is probably the hardest job ever. My dad worked my entire life in the coal mines like so many West Virginians do. It's a hard career, and I'm not sure I ever really appreciated it.
When I was home last weekend I started thinking about the sacrifices my parents made to make sure my life is easy. My dad worked afternoon shifts when I was growing up. He'd leave for work around one in the afternoon and get home around midnight. This meant we'd really only see him on Saturday and Sunday mornings and the occasional day off. Dad was a foreman and wasn't in the union, and this meant he'd have one maybe two regular days off a month. When Dad was home he was working on something - mowing the yard, painting something, fixing something, washing the cars, keeping things working. My dad is a restless person (in case you're wondering where I get it), and he never stopped. That's just how things were.
|With my parents at my law school graduation in 2003|
Ten years ago my dad had an unexpected heart attack that forced him to quit working at the young age of 55. I was living in Texas at the time, and when I got the call I packed up my car and drove back to West Virginia where I proceeded to monitor his salt intake and diet for weeks like a prison warden. I think that may be the one time where my dad couldn't wait until I left town again.
In the decade since my dad's heart attack, his health has gotten worse. I've never, not once, heard my dad complain. Just like when I was a kid and he spent his "free" time digging a ditch to stop flooding in the basement or whatever latest project needed his attention. I was spending time with Dad last weekend and marveling at how much work he's always done and how I don't know if he actually knows how much I appreciate it.
|One of my fav pics with my Dad, Christmas 2005. Wow I was blonde.|
|Yes, I'm pro coal. Suck it.|
|Love, love, love this photo from my wedding|