Our Successful Bull Rider

From Joanie:

My mother, like me, is not a fan of surprises–the last time we successfully surprised her was at her “39 for the first time!” surprise birthday party, which my dad thought would be more surprising than at 40. It has been twenty years since that surprise, and we got her again this past weekend.

My family found out about a month ago that my mom would be the first female to be inducted into the Pennsylvania Auctioneers Association. She was also the Association’s first female president. So the family began to secretly plan our tactical mission–to arrive to the Harrisburg Sheraton, in the midst of the PAA conference AND the farm show, and be there to congratulate her when she accepted her award.

This meant a good deal of sneaking around the hotel, calling family members when we knew she didn’t know about it, and encouraging her not to skip this year’s conference, because our grandparents “really wanted to go this year.” In a family where no one is particularly fond of surprises, not letting the cat out of the bag was decidedly difficult.

So when it came time to announce the new inductee, a hilarious bio was read, one that claimed the award recipient had early dreams of being a bull rider and enjoyed bungee jumping. My mother didn’t know it was about her until the very end. As she went up to accept her award, she turned to see her family behind her, and let out a quiet, “oh.”

We spent the remainder of the conference enjoying family time, and with my mother telling people who were giving her a hard time about the bio that she never did want to be a bull rider.

But she took on bull riding of a different kind–going into a profession that was and continues to be heavily male dominated, working full time and still managing to be there when we got home from school, preparing a healthy dinner. Sometimes the bull that is life threw her off, and she’d get back on and try again.

She’s made a life out of talking fast and selling the property that often represents a person’s life and accomplishments. She does this with grace, perseverance, and humor. And she set the example for her daughters that, no, life is not a bowl full of cherries, but you’d better keep working hard if you want to accomplish anything.

Though she’s not really in the most dangerous eight seconds in sports, she’s certainly bucked tradition. Ride on, cowgirl.

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