My parents, especially my stepfather. I take after him more than I take after my mother. My mother had me when she was 16, and worked her ass off to get to where she is in life, even though she had a ton of strikes against her. I have a great deal of respect for that. And the fact that my stepfather took me in and raised me as his own since I was a three-year-old and my mom was 19…well, not a lot of men would do that, and even less would do it as well as he has for all these years.
My aunt Laura, who is one of the sweetest, most patient, and most loving people I’ve ever known. If I ever have children, I wish I could be even half as good a mother as she is. She’s a wonderful nurturer, and what few qualities I have in that area came from watching her example.
My maternal grandmother, who has given me a great deal of my spunk. She’s also taught me by negative example, but that’s influence, nonetheless. I know not to let a man go on treating me like crap because of what I’ve seen her go through.
That’s it for now. I don’t really think any famous people have influenced my life, although I have respect for Chris Spielman, who basically quit football, the game he loved, to be with his wife through every moment of her chemotherapy. Their story is really quite touching, and it’s how an ideal marriage should be.
Just to give you all the sniffles, I’ll tell a somewhat unrelated story about them. She’d just gotten her diagnosis of cancer, and they were driving home from the doctor’s office in a state of shock. Chris was behind the wheel, and at a red light he got pissed off, smacked the wheel, and said something like “Why is this happening to us? What did we do to deserve this?” He basically started despairing and almost blaming God.
His wife looked at him and said “How can you say that that, given everything we have?” What a great sense of perspective.