By Mike Dunn 

On my own, with some help


On Aug. 19, 2009 I woke up in my empty room one last time. It was 4:30 a.m., and on any other day, it would have taken me an hour to pull myself out of bed.

But not this day.

I was headed to Spokane International Airport. The day I had waited for all my life had finally come: I was moving out and was finally on my own.

My mother made me an omelet that morning; just as she had done almost every morning while I was in high school. I was dressed in full Wyoming gear. She looked back from the stove at me, smiled and went back to cooking.

My father came down the stairs, going through a verbal checklist with me.

“Did you pack your shoes? Your books? Your toothbrush?” he asked.

Of course I did. The 18-year-old me just brushed off those comments. I had packed nearly a week in advance.

We made our way to the airport just as the sun was coming up. Sharing small conversations, my parents reminding me to meet with professors once I got to campus — offering advice on classes.

It went in one ear and out the other for me. All I could think about was getting out of that car and on that airplane.

My bags were checked. I had just one carry-on bag and a backpack with all the essentials —just in case my checked bags didn’t make it to Laramie.

It was time to say goodbye.

I hugged my mother, who was sobbing. I hugged my father, who said nothing. I looked up to see his eyes filled with tears. This was one of only a handful of times I had seen that.

I was fine. I was excited. No tears for 18-year-old Mike.

Once I negotiated my way through security, I looked back at my parents. My father had his arm around my mother. I could barely see their faces, but I knew my mom couldn’t hold it together by then.

I smiled, waved at them. They waved back. I popped my earbuds in, turned on some Pink Floyd and listened as the first notes of “Wish You Were Here” rang through my ears.

I went up the escalator to the terminal. Watching, as my parents slowly disappeared from sight.

It was not until recently that I realized the importance of that moment, which happened five years ago this month. I was so hell-bent on being on my own that day, I never took a second to thank my parents.

They were the people who put me through college. At an early age, they set aside money for me to go to school. They helped me financially, even when I was too proud to ask for it. They took long trips through hellish conditions to help me move, and to see me graduate in the middle of December.

My parents offered me advice through college. They told me how to take classes. They supported me when I told them I was majoring in Religious Studies. They were just as supportive of me during both the good semesters and the bad.

Now, they are there to help me through the “grown-up” world: how to build credit, what to look for when renting a house and how to be the best husband to my future wife I can be.

I don’t know where I would be without them. But I do know one thing: if it was not for my parent’s support, I would not be writing this right now.

When I was 18, I was “too old” for my parents. Five years later, I realize I will never reach an age where I won’t need their advice.

I’ve thanked them in the past for everything they have done, and I’ll thank them many times in the future.

But I’ve never thanked them for letting me go on that August 2009 day.

It may be five years late, but Mom and Dad: Thank you.


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