This one is super personal! And by virtue of that fact, a little scary for me. I don’t love putting super personal things about myself on the interwebs. But if you’re reading this blog, you’re reading about me. And this is a big part of me. A really big part.
Five years ago in February, my father passed away. Today would have been his 55th birthday. I don’t have many material things that remind me of my father. Well. Some photos, an expansive collection of 80’s rock/metal on vinyl, some guitars and a flannel shirt with penguins on it. So, a few things. But what’s most important to me is how much of my own self I feel that I owe to my dad. In celebration of his life, I have compiled a list of the 10 most precious things that my dad left to me. As a thoughtful man of few words, I don’t think my dad ever verbally told me or my sister any of these things. But communicated what was important to him through his actions and the way he treated others.
- A sense of compassion and kindness toward all living things (Except bees and bats). My father was, without a doubt, the most kind and considerate man I have ever met. Way nicer than I am. Actually, I think I have a pretty good sense of compassion, I just don’t always act on it. I mean, when I do or say something shitty, I usually know it’s shitty. So this one may be more like something that I aspire to. Also, I don’t have anything against bees and bats, but Dad did.
- A love of music, in general. And a deep, slightly obsessive, love of the band Rush, specifically. And no, I don’t care what you think about Geddy Lee’s voice.
- The most bizarre sense of humor. Ever. If you know me, you know it’s weird. Not sure if it was being exposed to all those episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus at a very young age, but I can’t help what I think is funny. I cheerfully blame Dad.
- Intellectual curiosity. The need to question everything (annoying, I know) and the need to understand how and why. And also an understanding of the importance of always keeping an open mind. Even if I don’t always succeed in that area.
- A love of science and technology. My dad was an electrical engineer, and constantly tinkering with some sort of… device. Our house was always cluttered with wires and tubes and circuit boards. I’ll never forget the time my dad decided we didn’t get good enough reception at our house and constructed a huge (like 10 feet) antennae “thing” from wood and wires and God knows what else. Although I am more artsy than engineery, this gives some insight into my perpetual nerdome.
- Respect for the inherent equality of all folks. Even if he didn’t know you. Even if he didn’t like you. That’s just how he was.
- Empathy toward those who struggle with depression, anxiety and/or alcoholism. Ummm, sorry interwebs. This is still a little too personal. Just know it.
- A vehement devotion to individuality. As someone who often struggled to fit in and to feel at ease with groups of people, I’m not sure that my dad always loved being so offbeat. But he was who he was, never tried to be anything else, and always accepted others exactly as they were. Even if he didn’t always embrace his own uniqueness, I always did. And learned from his example to be always true to myself.
- An ignorance of gender norms. Obviously, as an adult, this is no longer an ignorance, and I have at times been made acutely aware of others’ expectations. But I would like to think that both of my parents did as much as they could to shelter me from feeling that I had to be or act or think a certain way because I am female. And I am eternally grateful for what sometimes seems to be a unique perspective among my peers. Thank you Dad, for setting the standard and being the first man to love me for my mind and my heart (And maybe just cuz I was his daughter 🙂 ).
- A love of cooking, and of local food. My dad was a local food enthusiast of the localest kind: his back yard. I remember him obsessing over the amount of rainfall and how it was affecting his tomato and pepper plants. I remember him making homemade tomato sauce from those plants. Which would inevitably find its way into a lasagna. A food which I associate completely with my dad.
And so, I thought that making a huge lasagna this past weekend would also be an awesome way to remember my father. I didn’t grow the tomatoes, but someone in Western Pa did!
I’ll post the recipe tomorrow.