It’s nearing the end of September, and in my house, that means it’s nearing the end of ongoing birthday celebrations for my parents, John and Darlene Anthony. There’s only so many gardening tools I can buy for my mom, and golf polos I can give my dad — so this year, I’m giving them my column.
My parents’ love story is one for the movies — at least those set in suburban Chicago. Neither of my parents were born in the town they eventually settled down in. My dad immigrated from England when he was a kid, and my mom’s parents moved their family from a small town in Ohio to Illinois when she was in grade school.
Although they attended the same elementary, middle and high school, their paths didn’t cross until — get this — a Jewel-Osco employee party my mom’s friend dragged her to.
My parents prove the idea that opposites attract — and each of them has taught me lessons that have shaped who I am. My dad is a stubborn Irishman, with an unmatched work ethic and affinity for dinner table political debates. My mom, on the other hand, is one of the most empathic people I know. She would rather listen to what you have to say than insert her own opinion.
Hard work pays off, my parents have taught me. But, your work shouldn’t come at the expense of your own happiness. My dad pivoted to a career in the culinary arts around the same time he married my mom. He found a passion for cooking and figured out he could make money while doing it.
His advice to me: “Find something you love, then find someone stupid enough to pay you for it.”
My mom also showed what it means to use your skills to give back to people around you. For as long as I can remember, my mom worked desk jobs at corporate companies. My senior year of high school, though, she completely stepped away from the corporate world — using her time instead to care for elderly people.
After 38 years of marriage, it’s clear my parents are doing something right. I don’t have a secret formula for what goes into building a loving, stable relationship but I know this: my parents are always there for one another, they support each other’s passions and they make each other laugh.
Our family has had its struggles — as any family has. But my parents have consistently been the anchor holding us together. They’ve shown me what it means to be kind and patient to everyone I meet and to take the lessons I’ve learned from our own trials and use them to support those around me.
Happy 65th birthday dad, and happy 61st mom. When I grow up, I want to be just like you guys.