When I was younger, during high school, I remember feeling a great deal of anxiety and sadness that I was letting my father down. As I've shared before, I wasn't a great student at the start of my high school career. I was fat, had acne, was totally un-athletic, and I played the accordion. I knew that a cover shot for GQ was not in my future...but I was really fearful that I wasn't what my father wanted in a son, that I was a let-down, that I had somehow disappointed or thwarted the dreams any father would have for a son.
There is much in my life that my father and I differ on: our approaches to fiscal policy, religion, health, socializing, sports, recreation, food, and vocation. Once in college he admonished me, upon my telling him that I was changing my major from chemistry to theology, "Just don't become a priest." He also advised me once to "love whatever you study enough that you'd want to teach it." I have followed half of his advice and I do hope that I make him proud. I am far from perfect and he knows it...but I do try. Despite our differences - and they are legion - I have grown in respect for my father's ability to let me be me, to not try to change me into anything else, and to support me in my decision.
I owe my parents and the witness of their 32+ years of marriage more than any words can express. We have not always had an easy run - of this they can attest - but I want them to know of my utter and sincere love for both of them. In a special way, I want my dad to know this: a man typically reserved in his expression of emotion, I think it's important for him to hear how important he is and how much he is loved.
Often I wish that I lived closer to home so that I could spend time with my family. My niece and nephew, Emma and Quinn, are very lucky children in that they have wonderful parents and grandparents to love and support them. They will know my parents as "Nan" and "Bob" and, I am sure, they will be spoiled rotten. I will know them only as "Mom" and "Dad" and nothing in all the world could make me more proud, more humbled, or more loving.