June 19, 2011

Ode To Father

It's father's day, and usually I don't talk about my dad on this blog, but to be honest he is an undercover intellectual.  I feel like a lot of the time I talk about my mom, since she's the one where I get my overt nerdiness from, and raised me on Star Trek and Asimov.  But my dad definitely helped.  I also don't write about him enough.  My mom's life has inspired a lot of fiction, a lot of it I loved writing, but I would have to write a cerebral 1,000 page novel to capture.  That is a task that may have to wait when I am more seasoned.  But he helped me become who I am in a lot of ways.

One of the things that I will always remember of him is how if I didn't know the answer to a question, he would make me look it up.  Before the days of wikipedia and google, we had an encyclopedia set my parents bought from the year I was born.  I would ask questions and my dad would tell me to look it up.  That's how I learned what a spleen was, and I think where some different countries were as well.

In fact, one year I visited his side of the family in Maryland, and on the road trip over I asked "Hey Dad, why are toll roads called turnpikes?"
"I don't know."
A day later, driving in the car with my grandparents and cousins, I hear him ask, "Dad, do you know why tollways are called turnpikes?"
"Why, no I don't."
Immediately after that trip to food or wherever, they looked it up on a visual thesaurus.  Turns out turnpikes were a way to make sure people paid the toll way back in the day.  And they printed out the info and gave it to me.

My dad was also willing to let me try new stuff, and quit stuff I didn't like.  He let me know it was okay for me to stop taking french in college, even though it was his major.  He took me fossil hunting once when I was in third grade just because I was super curious.  He even let me try a sip of Wild Turkey when I was about seven, just enough to know I would never ever ever want to drink it again.

Still haven't touched it, and I've been legal.

He also trusted I was smart and relatively mature for my age.  He and my mom let me join in on adult conversations when I was younger, and I learned a lot on how to converse effectively with people by starting early.  He also trusted that I would learn to be better at things, so he never let me "just win" anything when I was younger.  Chess, Scrabble, Monopoly--even my Magic the Gathering starter set was not safe!  He was a master strategiest and wanted me to learn by seeing how an adult plays.  I do think he can kick my butt in half of those games, but maybe not as easily as it was then.

Finally, he is one of the bravest people I know.  He doesn't fear death.  Not in the climbing-mountains-daredevil way, not in the peace-with-his-god way, but literally no fear in not existing.  My dad believes, honestly and truly, that nonexistence is what is waiting for him, and he is at peace with it.

He is ready to boldly go where no one has gone back.

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