Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Watching my parents walk off

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The above photograph (passed through the Prisma app) was taken this morning at John Wayne Airport, just after I dropped my folks off for their return to Florida.

It made me sad to behold then, and it makes me sad to behold now.

Like many of you, I have a v-e-r-y close relationship with my folks. I think part of that stems from coming from a particularly small family. Growing up, it was Mom, Dad, me, my brother, one uncle, one cousin and the various grandparents. But I also chalk much of it up to sheer decency. My mom and dad are, simply, wonderful people. They’re kind, they’re compassionate, they’re empathetic. I’ve used this as an example before, but as a boy I played about 1,000 different sports—and one (if not both) of them were always there. When, after my sophomore year of college, I took a $5-per-hour internship in Urbana, Ill., my parents gave me the car for the summer, and my father drove out with me. The next summer I was off to Nashville, and once again I was allotted a vehicle and a fatherly chaperone.

My parents have etrernally been like half parents/half friends. I’ve always been very open with them. Can’t think of a time I felt a need to lie. They trusted me and my brother, and we responded to that. When my brother got drunk for the first time (age 17, Caldor’s holiday party), he called home and asked for a ride. It was delivered—sans judgment. When I smoked a cigar in the back yard (age 16, home alone), I felt so guilty I confessed.

My mom’s response: “Did you like it?”

Me: “Not really.”

Mom: “OK then …”

My parents put my brother and I through college. My parents taught my brother and me to be open-minded. My parents taught my brother and me to mow the lawn and do the dishes. My mom taught me street toughness. My dad taught me business savvy. My mom taught me the joy of Marshalls. My dad taught me how to change a tire. When my dad didn’t like his corporate life, he said fuck it and started his own firm. When my mom was being discriminated against, she said fuck it and filed a lawsuit. My parents taught us to drive. My parents taught us to value money. My parents taught us to love reading. I wanted to be a sports journalist. My parents knew nothing about sport journalism—but backed me throughout the process.

When we moved from New York to California four years ago, it broke my parents’ hearts. In particular, my mom. That crushed me, because it crushed her. Really, that crushed me because I knew I was crushing her.

It’s worked out fairly well. They visit a lot. We visit a lot. I call every day. They think I do so out of obligation.

Not true.

I do it because they’re my closest friends.