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  • In my Cowbird profile picture, it’s not just me. Rather, I’m standing next to a man – my father.

    He’ll be 52 in October, but he often claims to be 23. It’s funny because my now 10 year-old brother, Jake, used to believe him when he said that. Now he says, “Dad, you’re 51!”

    My Dad usually laughs and says, “Okay, you’re right.”

    A few weeks ago, I was having a bad day -- nothing traumatic, just overwhelmed with my own self-absorption. I called my Dad, who was in the OBX with my mother and two of my four siblings. I was babysitting that night, I had just put the two-year-old girl to bed, and I was sobbing on the phone to my father about the issues in my life that seemed beyond my capacity to handle at the moment.

    “Your mother is so happy now, Chelsea. I think about everything we’ve been through these past few years, and I didn’t see how big a part I have in her happiness,” he said to me. “I didn’t see it; I missed that for those years.”

    “That’s so great to hear,” I replied.

    I felt it the most this past year, when I was living at home after my college graduation. But I know the battlefields of their near marital-separation date back to when my father first lost his job in 2008.

    I was the oldest child living at home last year. I remember I used to turn on the Disney Channel and hold Jake in my arms on the couch while the screams emanated from the master bedroom down the hall. At the same time, another family member had an addiction problem that only pitted my parents against each other more. Then I’d hear about all these issues from my mother, who was so desperate for understanding that I became her therapist.

    I don’t remember how the conversation with my Dad that night on the phone led to the statement he made, but wow, what a sound for tender ears.

    My Dad, he’s my idol. He’s very imperfect, but always willing to admit it.

    I worked for my father the summer after my college graduation, when all of this was going on. The drive was about an hour from home. His car had been totaled after an accident that happened right after the previous Thanksgiving, so I drove us in my car. Some days, the car rides were so silent – both of us brewing in our own anger over the most recent household turmoil. But other days, we talked about it.

    It was a calm conversation, with long pauses between his extricated thoughts. I don’t remember exactly what was said in these conversations. I do know that he was still in denial about my sibling's addiction, his wife’s unhappiness and our family financial woes. But in those car rides, we tried to sort it out. Listening, mulling and sometimes temporary epiphanies -- I loved those car rides.

    Now as we heal from the past year, those epiphanies have been strengthened by perspective.

    Most people that know me say that I am one of the most positive people they have met. My best friend Briana has called me an eternal optimist, and she’s the first to remind me of this when I’m crying to her about one thing or another.

    I am. I can’t help it. Even when I want to be pessimistic, the silver lining gets too bright for me to ignore.
    A lot of people tell me, that it’s a great trait to have. *Sigh* Yeah, it has its perks.

    But I don't want the credit. I learned from the best.
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