[dropcap]I [/dropcap]suppose, I’d like to say thank you to my sixth-grade teacher, Mrs. Doerkson. Without her, I wouldn’t be writing. In fact, you wouldn’t even be reading this right now.
Then, I’d like to thank my older cousin, Lora, for handing me a cigarette when I was thirteen, saying, “Here, take a big drag off this.” That was the last time I ever smoked another cigarette. Likewise, damn you, Andrew, for attempting the same thing with chewing tobacco.
Thank you Goldie, my childhood golden retriever, she taught me unconditional love. To my boyhood-girlfriend Katie, the only girl I’ve ever known to share my allergic reaction to poison ivy. And to her mother, for introducing me to oatmeal baths.
Thank you to John Wayne, for teaching me how to hold a straight face, and to my babysitter Charlotte for introducing me to John Wayne. To Billy-Jay, Skip, and Robert, who taught me how to shoot quail. And to Cody, my chocolate Labrador, who never retrieved a single quail.
I’m grateful to my mother, who suffered through my adolescence. She bought my first typewriter, and has read every story I’ve ever written. For learning how to grieve with me. I’ll die with her name on my heart.
Thank you Lyle, for the World Series blowout; the chicken wings, calamari, steamed mussels, and fried cheese balls. Thank you to his wife, Sherry, who has non-verbally demonstrated how to be oneself, without apologizing for it.
Thank you to my wife, Jamie, for growing up with me.
And thank you Mrs. Doerkson, for once saying, “Anyone can say ‘thanks,’ but a grateful boy uses a pen to do it.”
And thank you.
For reading this.