To everyone who helped pave my way, if it weren’t for you I wouldn’t be here today. To all my friends, the guys, the broken hearts. All the critics, cynics and doubters, y’all know who you are.
I have been reflecting on my life a lot lately, where it’s going, where it’s gone, and I think it’s only fair to say I didn’t get here alone.
I haven’t traveled one mile on my own and I couldn’t be more thankful for everyone who has been a part of this ride with me. My girl scout leader who taught me how important it is to help those in need. That preacher who taught me to put God first in everything I do. The professor who showed me how important it was to believe in the future of my dreams. My neighbor who taught me that some people are really hard to love. The guys that introduced me to deal breakers. And the friends who showed me what friends are for. But these aren’t the only ones…
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…it was high school. The one person I owe so much to is my high school chorus teacher. I don’t think he really understands the impact he had on me. He was one of those teachers that was not just your teacher but a friend, someone you could talk to, someone who really cared about his students. That makes all the difference you know. I could not have gotten through high school without him and his class, and in my opinion, he is the reason high school was such an enjoyable time for me. Going to that class was the highlight of my day. I was never a very good singer but he never told me that. There were definitely times when he wasn’t exactly my favorite person, like during auditions, for example. And all those talent days that I hated so much. And that time he turned the heat up so I would have to take my coat off and reveal that I was wearing a Duke shirt because I lost a bet. And then all those times he picked on me when I lost my voice at the beginning of my senior year. And when he wrote “you’re lazy” in my yearbook. Now I look back and laugh at that knowing how lucky I was to be a part of his class for 4 years. And I’ll never forget all the great things he did for me. It was my junior year and I was placed in a class that I didn’t want to be in. He went to bat for me and switched my schedule around. All the trips he took us on, it wasn’t easy for him but he made them fun, safe, and successful. That time he called my mom twice just to check on me that time I got sick in chemistry and never made it to his class. All those times he overlooked the fact that me and my best friend wrote each other’s journals instead of our own. And then there were the senior moments. There was never a dry eye in the room when he held senior moments. He had such a strong connection with his students that each and every one of them had the utmost respect for him. If you’re gonna be a teacher, he should be your inspiration. (I hope he knows he’s singing at my wedding by the way!)
I also have a personal mentor that I couldn’t do without. I think it’s very important to have a mentor. Who else do you run to when you need help? He is the person who got me through Nash Community and the one who is getting me through UNCW. He is actually one of the most intelligent people I know. He always puts me in my place, in a good way, and always reminds me that no matter how good you are at something, you can always do better, which pushes me to do my very best. He never hesitates to tell me if something sounds bad, but he always follows it with words of encouragement. I feel like he has the answer to everything which inspires me to take every opportunity to learn something new.
These are the people to whom I owe everything: My mom, my dad, and Herb. I’ll start with Herb. I was 10 years old when I walked up to him with the idea to call bingo on tv. He probably thought it was ridiculous when he heard the idea but he let me do it anyway. I know if I owned the station and some 10 year old girl came up to me with that idea, I would probably turn her away. He has been at every birthday celebration ever since. He was there when I graduated from high school, he was there when I graduated from Nash Community College, and I know without a doubt that he will be at all three of my UNCW graduation ceremonies. He has been there during every major moment in my life. He was there when I got sick at the hospital the one time. He was there during every chorus trip, videoing it so that I would always have those memories. He was there when I met Dolly Parton, when I did my first interview. He was there when I met Tyler Hansbrough, he was there when I got my first car and bravely road with me. He was there when I moved into my first apartment, and I’m sure he’ll be there when I move out. He’s always there with me helping me while I panic under pressure when I wait until the last minute to complete something, no matter how long it takes. One of my favorite things about Herb is how he always puts himself last. He is the most unselfish person I know. I could never do enough to repay him for all of the things he has done for me.
She was the voice that brought Cinderella to life, the makeup artist that made me pretty with Barbie’s Glam Kit, the owner of the heels that always made me fall, the proud recipient of finger paint pictures, the keeper of animal crackers and orange juice, the healer of skinned up knees, and the hand that got me across the street safely. Today she is the most beautiful woman in the world to me. She is my mother. Inside and out, she’s better than I am. As a little girl growing up, I would spend all day outside picking dandelions for her that she gladly accepted with dirt falling off of them. As I grew up she became the person I always turned to for advice, there’s nothing she doesn’t know. She’s always been there for me with arms open wide. She put in the time and effort to be a part of everything I did because no one could protect me better than she could. She was an assistant girl scout leader for my girl scout troop, she became my cheerleading coach at our local Y, she chaperoned almost every school field trip. She took two hours out of her day every day just to drive all the way to Bailey to pick me up from school. When I get sick in Wilmington, she burns that road to be there with me. Although she is sweet, she has no problem putting you in your place. Especially if it involves me. Any guy I’ve dated will tell you that. I think Eyes of Emiline says it best: it’s so typical to fear the father, she may look sweet but don’t underestimate my mother. She knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to go after it. She is strong willed and intelligent and at the end of the day, she deserves an arm full of roses but she’s satisfied with a handful of weeds.
So I’m 7 years old wearing a Dockers jacket that’s 10 sizes too big for me, standing on my daddy’s toes as we twirl around the porch. That’s where I first learned to dance. He taught me how to fish, how to use a hammer, how to drive a nail. He taught me how to play horse in basketball. He taught me how to drive a car by letting me sit in his lap and take the wheel, he instilled in me my love for animals, my love of being on the water, and my love of chocolate cake. He was my lifeguard that time I jumped in the city lake, he was the one walking beside the pony when I took my first ride, he was the one holding onto the seat when I rode a bike for the first time and the one who bought me a four-wheeler and a golf cart when I decided the bike wasn’t for me, he was the arms that caught me when I thought I could fly, he was the quarter that always kept the pirate ship sailing, he was Ken every time I played with Barbies, although I was never really a Barbie person, he was the shoulders that I sat on when I couldn’t see, he was my math teacher at home, he was my assistant during science projects, he was the builder of my arch in that Spanish class back in high school, and he was my backup when mama said no. He’s the reason “Daddy, love you more” was a commonly used phrase, and the one who got a hug in the morning and butterfly kisses at night. He is my biggest fan. He was always there cheering me on at every swim meet, every horseback riding lesson, every game I cheered at, and every chorus concert and talent show I performed in. He shows me how proud he is of me every day, and in everything I do. My dad is my main man, he is the best man I know, and the reason my standards are so high when it comes to dating. He’s amazing and there is nothing he can’t do. Nothing he can’t fix. If you want to know where my personality comes from, he’s the one you should look to, I’m just like him. And no matter where I go in life, a part of me will always be daddy’s little girl.
They say it takes a village to raise a child and my grandma was at the head of that village. She was my babysitter, my personal chef, my audience when I blared the karaoke machine, my opponent in go fish, my alarm clock in the mornings, the maker of the sweet tea, the keeper of clean clothes, and the queen of surprise gifts. She is selfless and always plays the background. She keeps me grounded. It’s so easy to get lost in this world with all the amazing opportunities I have and she is always there to remind me where I’m from, what’s important in life, and to always put family first. Everyone that knows her loves her and what more could you want out of life.
And last but not least…Trixie!!! This little guy makes all my days brighter.
I didn’t get here alone, that road’s just too rough and long, I might be the one the spotlight’s on, but I didn’t get here alone.