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Dances with Wolffs

Updated: Jan 23, 2020

Hi there.

Nice to see you again.

Last week, I let D choose our Friday night movie. Now, this doesn't happen often. The movies we generally agree to are the ones I generally want to watch. What can I say? I’m very particular about movie selections. Anyway, he chose Dances with Wolves. A stellar choice. The movie already had a special place in his heart, and now even more so. After all, my husband’s Sioux name would probably be akin to Kevin Costner's, with a subtle spelling difference:

Dances with Wolffs.

D said his name might also be Grumpy Man, but we’re focusing on the Wolff part today, because this week was my parents’ anniversary. So, Mama and Papa Wolff, this one’s for you.

Now, there are a myriad number of ways I could go with this...

For example, I could write about what they taught me about life and love.

I could write about Mama – how she taught me to give without thinking twice, to be patient enough to personalize birthday cupcakes with the names of each of my classmates in elementary school, and to be thoughtful enough to remember that one thing I saw in the store months before and wrap it up for me on Christmas morning. I could write about the unbelievable care and consideration she puts into everything she touches, miraculously spinning anything into gold. For example, how we decorated a flan with kiwi slices for my Grandfather's 90th birthday after he said, "I'm so excited for one of Mimi's birthday cakes!" and she was afraid that he would be disappointed with the flan.

I could write about Papa – how he taught me the power of optimism, the idea that every person I meet could be my new best friend, the value of observing the world and its wonders large and small, and the beauty of endless gratitude for, well, pretty much everything. I could write about how he used to write me napkin notes in my lunch every single day, or how he instilled in me a love of losing myself in a good book. Or how he’s quick to laugh and share a good joke. I could write about the way he somehow passes time, rather than spending it, because he knows how precious and short life truly is.

I could write about how Papa still calls his Little Potato sometimes and how Mama will forever call me “My James."

I could also write about how much they've taught me about partnership. Things like:

  • Let things go.

  • Be truly present with each other.

  • Snuggle.

  • Appreciate each other’s strengths and recognize how they complement yours.

  • And tell your wife how beautiful and amazing she is every day. (Okay, that one’s all Papa.)

I could write about how they created a home for me and Leah in which we knew only abundance even though funds were quite tight for most of our childhood. How they taught us the true meaning of abundance by sitting down and having dinner with us every night as a family. And by celebrating the magic of Christmas unlike any household I’ve ever experienced with simple traditions and hand-lettered packaging of gifts that ranged from iPhones to bottles of ketchup – a magic that continues to this day.

Perhaps I could write about how much we’ve laughed together, or the tough conversations that helped us all move forward and grow. How they still stop what they’re doing to sit down and listen to me play piano when I come home. How Mama tenderly washed my hair over the kitchen sink after my foot surgery and drove to Manhattan to stay with me for a week after I broke my humerus. (Yeah, I’ve had some bizarre bone injuries.) How Papa made a wedding bench with my husband-to-be and sent me home with a huge container of homemade bone broth, thrilled because he’d never had anyone to make it for before.

I could also write about the integral role they played in my confident self-expression (aka no holds barred "this is who I am, so you'd better just listen until I'm done – and it might be awhile, so brace yourself"). I know that seeing me stutter significantly as a child wasn’t easy for them, but I never had any idea they struggled. They simply listened as I sang and performed for hours on end, asking only after a significant amount of time, “Jamie, does this have an ending?” because they cherished those rare moments of me having full command of my voice. They always listened, no matter how long it took, which motivated me to continue speaking with confidence and pride.

These are just a few things that immediately came to mind. You see, I could write about all of these things and more, but where to begin? How do I capture Chris and Mimi Wolff in one humble blog post? It’s impossible. You just have to meet them. Then you’ll learn, as D did early on, that “the Wolffs are huggers.” You’ll learn a lot of other things, too.

Until then, know that they’re waiting for you with open arms and a hot cup of coffee, waiting to listen to your stories.

So, there you go: keep sharing your stories, because someone wants to hear them. Including the Wolffs.


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