This ranking is dedicated to and outlines the greatest set of parents that I have ever known, including my biological ones. From the day I met these two individuals, I knew that they were the type of parents I had always envisioned having myself. They were not overly strict and let their son Jim and I have quite a long leash when it came to our horseplay. To this day, I laugh at some of the things they not only let us do, but took part in themselves.
I met James and Paula officially in the summer of 2003, (unofficially in the spring of that same year when our car parked next to theirs at our 8th grade graduation and we exchanged “hellos”) when I attended Jim’s birthday party on the 27th of June. At that time I didn’t know that I would ever develop the relationship with them that I have now or that one day I could openly say that they represented parents to me.
Together, James and Paula are a joy to know, but it is their individual qualities that made me think of things I had never had in my own family life. These feelings and actions came about after I moved into their home during my senior year of high school. It was during this time that I came to really appreciate all that they had done for me.
Paula was the one that conversed with me the most out of the pair. She always kept me updated about what was going on at her workplace or at the house. Whenever the family was going anywhere, including their yearly vacation to Pennsylvania, she always asked me if I wanted to go. When she would do the weekly grocery shopping every Friday, I would bike the 50 minutes or so (twice in pouring rain) just to go shopping with her simply because I felt like it. It was times like these that I felt like a member of their family.
James represented the ideal father to me and one I have and always will compare to my own. I like James, whom I called “Big Jim,” because he didn’t demand that you respect him, he simply respected you and by doing so deserved that respect in return, which I gave him. After I would get home from school and he got home from work, we would frequently go into the basement and work on various things. The major project that we worked on was fixing up what are called “reels.” These are machines that are attached to mowers and allow the grass on golf courses to be cut very small. Every year, a friend of his that did this type of work allowed Big Jim to fix up all of his reels and then paid him for doing so.
I was very accepting when James asked me to help him with this work and he would pay me for doing so. I can remember to this day sitting in the basement after doing a day’s work and waiting for dinner and thinking to myself “I have waited 19 years to do this kind of stuff.” I truly had not had such a bond with a father figure, not even my own, ever.
There was always work to be done around the Holmes residence, whether it was indoors or outdoors. It might have been the dishes needing to be cleaned off and put into the dishwasher or it could have been mowing the lawn. Regardless of the type of work, I enjoyed doing those chores. I never once objected to helping and most of the time I started doing something without ever being asked to. I knew that I was not going to be lazy around the house from the beginning. After all, these two people had welcomed me into their home without demanding a dime and I wanted to show my gratitude by being treated exactly like their own children when it came to chores and work. I never wanted to be treated special or as an outsider, and I never was.
To this day, I still consider James and Paula to be my parents. It is obvious that they are not this way in a biological sense but when it came to the roles parents play and the support that they provide, they are my parents in every sense of the word. Their home provided the sanctity that I always longed for (proven to be true most notably one spring afternoon when I was around 15 or 16 when my father and I had argued and I walked out of the house, essentially “running away from home,” and walked 2 hours to their house because it seemed like the right place to go) and I am thankful for that. Thinking back, I am not sure there is a way to fully thank the Holmes’ for what they have given me, both in terms of a home and the parental relationship. I can only hope that this piece and the way that I act today are a small testament of their affect on me.