Parents, gratitude, and the #EnriqueEffect

Most everyone thinks their parents are special. A lot of people think their parents are odd. Mine are both. Both, in a good way, and more of the former, but both nonetheless. 🙂 People who know me know that I love them dearly. They’ve done everything humanly possible for me ever since birth. I wouldn’t be here without them, in more ways than just the obvious. But let’s back up to before I was born…

My father is a fantastic musician. He had a long, successful career as a vocalist, and played the Rolls Royce of the keyboard world: the Hammond B3 organ. The Hammond B3 is what all other keyboards want to be when they grow up. It’s often imitated, but never duplicated. But I digress… Dad played gigs in lots of different places. Detroit, Chicago, Traverse City, South Haven, just to mention a few. (I’m sure the complete list would be in the dozens) On a certain fateful night in 1969, he was playing at a place in Kalamazoo, MI called “The Pacific Club.” It was THE place to be back in the day. Between sets, dad would mingle with the patrons, get to know them, take song requests, find out who had an anniversary, special occasion, etc.

This particular night, a certain young woman and her date caught his eye. Dad went over, introduced himself, and struck up a conversation with the pair. As they talked, she happened to mention that she was president of the local chapter of alums of Nazareth Academy. “I’ve always wanted to play their band shell,” dad said. So he proceeded to borrow a pen FROM HER DATE so he could give her his information to pass along.

But wait, there’s more! At the end of the night, dad was able to work his way into sharing a cab with the pair. Seriously. I’m not making this stuff up. Oh, but it gets better, because the following day, mom called dad to set up a lunch date, to which dad showed up with a 5-stanza poem, and proposed.

They’ve been together ever since.

As amazing, and as easy as this may sound, keep in mind we are talking about 1969, a black man from Chicago, and white woman from Paw Paw, MI. Mixed relationships were not nearly as acceptable as they are today. Needless to say, it was far from easy. There were plenty of obstacles, but they stuck it out, fought through, and will be celebrating 42 years together this year.

There ya go. Just one of the reasons I think…no…I *know* my parents are amazing. We were never wealthy, but growing up I never “wanted” for anything. I always had clothes. I always had food. I always had somewhere to live. May not have been name brand clothes, filet mignon, in a mansion, but I was pretty darn fortunate.

And that fortune continues to this day. I know they are there for moral support, emotional support, and they have helped me financially more times than I can describe. To say I’m thankful would be a gross understatement. I owe them more than I can ever repay. Best I can hope to do is to someday make them proud, and follow their example.

Me, mom, and Dad, on the day I left Kzoo for OKC...

Which brings me to the #EnriqueEffect. To do that, I need to start once again with dad…

Stereotypically, men are notorious for missing special occasions, forgetting anniversaries, and so on. Not only does dad remember things like that, he gives gifts just for the heck of it. Mom’s office at work, and their living room at home look like a florist shoppe. It’s unreal. But it’s things like that which stuck with me. As a result, I do the same thing. I don’t wait for a birthday to give someone a gift. I don’t need a holiday season to do something nice for somebody.

So, last summer when my friend, Sara, posted online that she was craving a shake, and I happened to be at McDonald’s at the time, I bought one, and took it to her office. A few days later, I was getting a Carmel Steamer from Biggby Coffee. My friend, Rachel, commented how good one sounded to her. Yep, I bought another one, and dropped it off at her office. A couple of weeks after that, my friend, Sonya, mentioned what a horrible day she was having. I stopped at the store, bought a small flowering plant, and took it to where she works.

No agenda. No ulterior motive. Just random acts of kindness. And when Sonya commented that she was going to then “pay it forward” to someone else, Sara jokingly responded “…and that, children, is how the #EnriqueEffect was born.” The name stuck. 🙂

Who knows? One of these days, you too may be a recipient of the #EnriqueEffect. Regardless, I recommend taking a page from my dad’s book: do something nice for someone else. Whether you know them, or not.

Just because.

One thought on “Parents, gratitude, and the #EnriqueEffect

  1. What a touching, and loving tribute to your parents. You ARE a good son. Speaking as a parent myself, you hope that you give your kids the tools to grow up to be thoughtful, kind, and contributing members of society. You sir are all of the above. (and more!)
    Love reading your posts.
    Your friend,

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