I’ve been blessed to be around some pretty amazing women throughout my life. They’ve all taught me at least a thing or two — and more often than not, so much more. Sometimes I had to learn the hard way, of course, but the point is I always left a lot smarter — and a little better — than before I met them.
Of all the women I’ve ever met, my wife is the most impressive. She’s made me a better person than I could have ever thought possible. She has accepted me into her life unconditionally — and if you’ve ever spent more than about 30 seconds with me, you realize I come with a lot of conditions. As incredible as she is as a wife, however, she’s an even better mother. I think my two kids would be the first to tell you all of us would be lost without Michelle. From my wife, I’ve learned what love really is.
Every time I look at my daughter Sophie, I see all the things I wish I could have been as a kid. She’s smart, athletic, compassionate and hard-working. She’s been through an awful lot at a young age, but has never given up or lost any of the traits that make her so wonderful. Given who her mother is, I suppose this should come as no surprise. My daughter has taught me about hope.
I was raised by a mother who never took no for an answer. She believed in herself, her children and her husband. When I was younger and feeling weak or unsure, my mother’s faith in me never wavered. Jean Fong had a way of taking over every room into which she walked. It was her’s and no one was going to take it from her. From my mother, I learned confidence.
After making the varsity soccer team as a freshman, my older sister Julie broke her arm in a game. The doctor told her she was done for the season. My sister politely disagreed and cut the cast off with a saw in our garage before the arm was healed. My mother took her back to the doctor and had another cast put on. My sister had her best friend stomp on it until it broke off. I guess she just wanted to play soccer. My older sister Julie taught me about toughness.
I didn’t always get along with my younger sister Jenny. Truth be told, I was pretty rotten to her. She deserved a better big brother than me. But in adulthood, we’ve found common ground and learned to get along. Not only that, but she’s helped me out when I’ve had tough times in my life, without ever bringing up our past. From Jenny, I’ve learned about the true meaning of forgiveness.
Some of my best friends in adulthood have been females. Did you know it was possible to be friends with a member of the opposite sex without expecting anything else out of it other than friendship? It took me a little longer to come to this conclusion, but I did thanks in large part to Tiffany, Hallie, LeNan and a host of others. From them, I’ve learned about respect.
Of course, naturally I’ve learned a few things from the female teachers I’ve had along the way, as well. I’ve had some pretty incredible (and patient) ones over the years. Thank you, Mrs. Frey, Mrs. Mitchell, Miss Morris, Mrs. Morris, Mrs. Wannemacher, Mrs. Grimes and the dozens of others who put up with me in class during the course of my education — you should probably all get medals for that — for teaching me how to think.
I’ve covered hundreds of talented female athletes in my 22 years as a sports writer. I couldn’t possibly name all of them, but I’ll never forget Carrie, Jessie, Rebecca, Rachel, Hammer, Gracie, Emily, Christine, Camryn and all the rest who have shown girls are capable of doing the same things as the boys — and often doing it better. They’ve taught me some important lessons about perseverance.
In more than two decades at this job, I’ve been blessed to meet some of the most talented women in the business. Women like Nancy, Mel, Twin, Belinda, Cecilia, Samantha, Megan, Aprill, Kim, Cara and so many others have succeeded in a business still largely dominated by men. I know it hasn’t always been easy. From each and every one of you, I’ve learned about professionalism.
It sure seems like it’s been a tough time to be a woman of late — although, to be honest, I’m not sure there’s ever been an easy time to be a woman in our society. I know many of you, including so many whom I love dearly, are feeling scared, saddened, disregarded and disrespected. I’m certain there are some people out there who believe your feelings aren’t justified, but that’s not really the point here, is it?
The point is nobody — regardless of gender, race, religion or any other inherent factors — should ever have to live their life feeling any of those things.
Know, then, that are you are loved, respected and appreciated by most. That’s something you should never have to learn the hard way.
David Fong writes for the Troy Daily News, a division of AIM Media Midwest.