If any goodness I have comes from my mother, any audacity I have comes from my pop.
He left home at seventeen to become an Air Force pilot. He met my mother at 21, courted her for six weeks, then married her. In his twenties, with two kids in tow, he went to college on the G.I. bill. He had a chapter as an engineer and then went to medical school in his thirties. In his fifties, he became a research scientist as well as an M.D. and discovered the first Lyme spirochete on the west coast. For fun, he sang opera, ran marathons and flew airplanes. At 60, having packed at least five lives into one, he died of cancer.
I’m deeply passionate and highly energetic. There aren’t enough hours in the day to investigate everything that catches my curiosity. This is all Paul Lavoie.
Another thing about my father. He gave not one fuck. You didn’t like what he was doing? Too damn bad. He was going to do it anyway. This, too, I’ve inherited. It’s tempered by my mother’s kindness but I’m going to live exactly the life I want to live. I might just adopt a kid from a foreign land, or get divorced, or buy a house when on paper I have no business doing any such thing. I may love someone I’m not supposed to love. Sometimes I make some very unpopular decisions.
He wasn’t easy, my dad. He was fiery and loud, quick to anger, hugged too hard. He wasn’t the best husband; often selfish and ungrateful and probably unfaithful. He was largely absent as a father, at least in my experience (my siblings have their own story to tell). But he was charismatic, dynamic and so smart. The sun to my mother’s moon.
There’s a Rumi quote I love. “Forget safety. Live where you fear to. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.” I lettered it on an old wooden grape-drying tray and hung it above my bed. The lesson of my pop.
My father burned bright. He took chances, big and small. He went for it, always. He was ever ready for an adventure. His heart beats inside me, fast and hard.