I have many friends and many, many acquaintances. I like a ton of people and I love a lot of people, but I reserve respect for a small handful of people I have met through the years that hold something special. My father used to tell me that respect had to be earned and I believe that to be true. What qualifies as respect for someone might be different for someone else. In my eyes a person earns my respect when they show a consistency of qualities that I value. I thought I’d have my key for a long time and, although it’s designed to “pay it forward,” I was happy to wear it and enjoyed the conversations it started in many situations. The other day something happened that made it so clear to me who deserved my key. The more I thought about it the clearer it became. This person embodies the person I wish I was more like, the kind of friend I hope I am and the kind of wife I aspire to be. She constantly thinks the best of everyone and in my hardened, cynical mind I have often thought her naive. I was wrong. She loves from a depth I don’t recognize, she is selfless to a point without losing herself, she would do anything for me, or anyone, at any given moment and never complain. She doesn’t always “get me” and my sarcastic humor but has always allowed me to be me without looking at me through disapproving eyes. Through the years I have teased my husband that I married him for his family….that may not be far from the truth because it took this kind of woman to raise a man that embodies such strength of character and integrity as my husband. So today I will pay my key forward to my beautiful mother-in-law,
Joanne Shoup.