By: Icy Frantz
I have always believed that you looked out from the heavenly skies at an array of hopeful families, pointed to ours, and said, “I’ll take them.”
You arrived two weeks late, all nine pounds of you, delivered in the wrong hospital by the wrong doctor after hours of labor and the threat of an emergency c-section. When that doctor finally said those infamous words, “It’s a girl” (to which a nurse added “with attitude”), I thought, “He must be kidding.” He was not. Your four brothers now had a sister.
Boy or girl – that was never my thing; I was just looking for healthy and strong and, thankfully, that is what we got (but my own mother was especially happy that I, too, would get to experience the joys of an adolescent girl).
And whether you believe a name defines you or you define your name, Brady (chosen by your brothers to celebrate their favorite Patriot, Tom) seemed to suit you immediately. You were cute and strong and, like the nurse mentioned, you had a certain pervasive attitude, the same attitude that has benefitted your namesake on the football field.
So, Brady, this is for you as you head off to boarding school. And you being you, and me being me, you knew this was coming!!!
Embrace Gladys Deck.
Gladys Deck (name changed to protect the real Gladys Deck) was a girl I met during my first year of boarding school. She was different. She didn’t wear the bright-colored, preppy Fair Isle sweaters that the Fairfield County girls loved and wore. She was a little chubby and not athletic. She spoke with a bit of an accent and her actions seemed awkward and nerdy. I wrote her off almost immediately; I thought I was much too cool for Gladys Deck.
But as it turns out, Gladys Deck was much too for cool me. She was comfortable in her non-Fair Isle attire and creative and became one of the funniest and kindest girls in the grade (and has gone on to lead a really interesting and cool life).
I went away to school to broaden my horizons and to meet new people – different people from different parts of the world – and yet, when presented with the opportunity, I balked. I put too much stock in what I observed on the outside and too little in the parts that lay beneath.
And I wonder now if Gladys Deck felt lonely those early days of freshman year. Or was she was scared and homesick, like me? I wonder what would have happened if I had asked her to walk with me to the dining hall to grab lunch. But I didn’t ask. I wish I had gotten to know the Gladys Decks.
Some people say there are three types of people: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened. I disagree. There are many different types of people and many different types of roles, and it is important that we take turns playing those different roles.
Sometimes, it will be your moment to shine; you will make things happen. You will score the winning goal or get the good grade or the coveted boyfriend. Enjoy those moments.
But equally important are those moments where you will stand off to the side and cheer for a friend who scores that winning goal, gets the good grade, or the coveted boy. You will watch things happen. In these moments, it’s not about you. Celebrate others’ successes.
And there will be times when you will have no idea what is happening, and that’s okay too. I had no idea how to navigate my way through Advanced Physics or Calculus. Be okay with the idea that others may understand things that you do not (and you will probably understand things that they do not.) An old friend once told me, “You are not a rocket scientist” (and for the record, he was not either). At first, those words stung, until I realized that they are true; I am literally not a rocket scientist, but I am smart in lots of other ways.
We all have different things to offer the world. Find your things. Support your friends. Know your strengths and limitations.
“Bend Zee Knees.”
That was the advice given to me over and over again from one of my favorite people. Taken at face value, it’s good advice (especially for a squash player); bending your knees protects you as it gives you a lower center of gravity and a firm foundation from which you can find your strength and stability. But those words always meant more to me because of the person behind them.
Ronnie Clark was my math teacher and squash coach, and I adored him. We stayed in touch long after I graduated and long after he retired. He was an excellent teacher, a wonderful coach, and an even better person. I can still hear his voice and see the smile on his face as he nudged a dozing student, “Out for a short break?”
Keep the door open for the possibility of that special connection and, if you are lucky, you will find a Mr. Clark as well. He will root for you, push you (hard sometimes, when it’s needed), and share his wisdom, earned over a lifetime of teaching young people how to live. And that relationship will change your life.
And finally, ask questions. Lots of them. What makes me happy? Why do socks get lost in the dryer? Why does x=y? Why is my mother so annoying? Is there a God? But never, ever question our love for you. Ever.
Now put the device down. Look up. File away this letter on your laptop for another day. And go take that awesome, persistent – and sometimes forceful – attitude and enjoy everything this new, incredible adventure has to offer.
We (Dad, Hunterina Ballerina, Hanford, Mac Attack, Maritza, Maui, Sailor Bob, Trip, Lila, Fish, and me) will be the ones off to the side cheering you on when you make things happen and even when you don’t.
So grateful that you chose us. Love you madly,
“Still here? It’s over. Go home.” Ferris Bueller