Godbey: Things I learned from my parents

Published 4:45 pm Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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Every parent hopes they can teach their child something that will serve them as they become adults.  I can remember my mother teaching me how to fold the laundry. I did everything in my power to avoid this chore and it was difficult to pull me away from those episodes of Bugs Bunny and Road Runner. Back then, I mainly had what I called my golf socks. You know, because they had 18 holes in them. 

My father was the world’s best eavesdropper. As a teenager getting into things I shouldn’t, I always had to watch for him because he had the detective skills that would baffle my mind and seemed to be able to hear conversations through walls. It was common for him to be lurking around a doorway or pretending to be checking the thermostat as I spoke to my friends on the phone. I tried my best to fool him, but he knew the truth with pinpoint accuracy. I remember I borrowed his truck under the pretense of going to work. I didn’t think anyone would know if I went joyriding instead. To my surprise, he knew exactly how many miles it was to my job and back home, and when those miles didn’t match the speedometer, he confronted me instantly about where I had been. It was useless to lie. It was like trying to fool the CIA. It couldn’t be done. Thanks to my father, my eavesdropping skills have evolved and now I can listen to three conversations simultaneously while pretending to admire a potted plant. It’s the secret of my success.

My parents also taught me how to navigate the grocery store when we made our weekly trip to town to the Food Fair. While my mother would take my hand and look at a little of everything, my dad would enter the store on a mission, go directly to the item, pay for it, and be back in the truck within 5 minutes flat. As I’m now the age my father was then, my grocery store stealth is quite advanced. I can glide through the crowded aisles, avoiding eye contact as my cart moves silently through the store like a ninja’s shadow. Thanks, Dad.

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I remember that, back in the 1980s, my mother had quite a Tupperware collection. I was impressed by how she kept them organized perfectly. Thanks to those early lessons, I can now fit a week’s worth of leftovers into a single container. It’s like Tetris but with lasagna. As a young adult, I could never afford Tupperware, so I had to substitute reusable butter dishes. I never knew if I was reaching for the Country Crock or a tub of leftover Sloppy Joes. It was a crap shoot, what was inside for sure. However, thanks to my mother, they were organized with precision.

Being the youngest child, I would find that my older siblings often didn’t want to play with me. When I ratted on them to my mother, she didn’t force them to play with me as I requested. Instead, she suggested that I play with my invisible friend, Gerald the possum. Gerlad and I would get into all sorts of scrapes over the years but had a great time. Today, Gerald, the invisible possum, is my life coach. He advises me on just about everything.

As long as I’m alive, my parents’ legacy will live on. They taught me that life isn’t a straight line. It’s a zigzag of oddities and mismatched socks. They taught me to always be kind to those around me and that things were often not as they appeared to be. So, here’s to you Mom and Dad. Thanks for the laughter, the life hacks and one invisible possum.