From the Editor's Desk

This One’s For You, Mom and Dad

Mary Norkol | The PhoenixThe 'rents themselves.

Every week, my mom asks what my column is about. Then she asks me if she’s referenced in it. She usually is. 

Then she follows that by asking when she’ll get a column that’s all about her.

Well, Mom (and Dad), now’s the time.

Last week, when most everyone was down in the dumps as the quarantine blues truly set in, I realized my family group message was more active than usual. That was nice. Among the hockey memes from my brother, eye-rolling emojis from my sister and pictures of empty airports from my pilot brother-in-law, a video from my mom snuck in.

Mary Norkol | The Phoenix My parents helped me cheer on the Ramblers in the 2018 Final Four.

The thumbnail showed her with my dad and what appeared to be … workout weights?

This has got to be good, I thought.

I watched the video, which indeed turned out to be my parents doing a workout routine together. My dad was taking it all too seriously, refusing to let the camera see him crack. I could tell he was coerced into this by my mom, who, by the way, couldn’t stop laughing.

“Travelin’ Band” by Creedence Clearwater Revival played in the background and my mom chided my dad for going too fast. The video reminded me of how lucky I am to have silly parents. Even my dad, known for being a stoic man of few words who never truly stopped being a coach, can lean into a joke given the opportunity.

Mary Norkol | The Phoenix My parents are going on 30-plus years of jokes and smiles as big as these. Pretty wild, if you ask me.

In the moment, my mom’s bits make me roll my eyes more often than not. But looking back I’d be hard pressed not to crack a smile.

Almost every time our beloved Green Bay Packers take the field, she dons an Aaron Rodgers mask that she digs out of our massive bin of garb. You know how most people have a bin of old Halloween costumes? Yeah, we have one strictly for obscure Packers paraphernalia. 

Mary Norkol | The Phoenix The whole “fam-damn-ly,” as our group message is named.

When I was preparing to go to Florida for spring break, she shipped me six bottles of sunscreen because like everyone in my family, I’m prone to a nasty sunburn. Cue eye roll. Followed by a bunch of laughs.

My dad, on the other hand, is much more subtle with his commitment to strange jokes. But that just makes him so much funnier to me (and everyone else). When he accidentally matches clothes with my mom before going somewhere public — which happens more than you’d think — his sigh of disappointment is closely followed by a chuckle of his own. And without fail, he’ll begrudgingly pose for a matching picture. Every time.

Big Country Photography, LLC He may not seem like it, but my dad can tear up the dance floor.

My family has had quite the year. It’s been filled with more heartbreak than I ever thought possible. “Challenges” seems like too small a word to describe everything we went through.

My parents bore the brunt of all of it. 

And they still continue these strange little jokes. To me, that’s strength.

This week, our first week without a print publication, we still continue to bring you the news you need. Please consider subscribing to our newsletter.

In the News section, find daily updates on the state of COVID-19 in Illinois, along with how groups at Loyola and in Rogers Park are responding to life being flipped upside down.

The Sports section has my favorite story of the week, hands down. In case you didn’t love Sister Jean enough already, find the story of her pet monkey reported by Sports Editor Nick Schultz.

A&E Editor Mary Grace Ritter pays tribute to the musicians lifting spirits through livestream concerts. In Opinion, The Phoenix Editorial Board shows the perspective of 2020 graduates and pleads employers to have a little compassion.

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