Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

My Dad woke up every morning at 5 am and studied languages for an hour or so before coming out of his study and having breakfast with the family before heading off to his days at hospital.

He started as a general physician, was promoted to medical director, became an attache for a term at the World Health Organization, and then chose to return to general medical practice rather than return to medical directing.

He taught himself to play the classical guitar when he was in his 40's, and then taught me.   

If we got talking about some area of interest he would end up piling a whole stack of books that might be related.  He was sort of like the internet in person.  There wasn't a topic of knowledge he did not feel connected to in some way.   He got a good classical type education through a merit scholarship and went on to study German literature in college and then to medical school, but he remained an auto-didact through it all. 

He told stories about his young days.   Lots of stories of all kinds.   He was one of those people who had vivid memories of his youth.

He loved dogs and thought of them as friends. 

He kept journals his whole adult life, and a list of all the books he read.

Whenever he was home he put on music -- mostly classical music, but all kinds of it, from Bach to Beethoven to Bartok, from Dowland to Rodriquez.

He loved to teach and share his learning, but he could listen too, and he never talked down or acted like an ultimate expert in anything.  

He loved my mother with a romantic, admiring love that endured for the nearly 50 years of their marriage.   He handwrote cards for her birthday and their anniversary every year.

He loved food, all kinds of it, and loved finding new restaurants and types of foods.   He loved to share his finds with other people. 

He collected indigenous art wherever we were, so our house was ornamented with Navajo sand paintings and Inuit scrimshaw and everything in between.

He set up dinnertime trivia quizzes and organized a weekly family poker game when we were teens.

He didn't always approve of all our choices and sometimes was frustrated as a Dad, but he relished all our accomplishments and was always honest and loving at the same time.

He shared his spiritual journey with us.   He told us about his heroes and the impact they made on his life.

He collected an immense library of books -- and kept collecting -- and read the books and talked about them.

He loved watching The Simpsons, and loved PG Wodehouse, and cheered for the Red Sox his whole life.

He played percussion in community symphonies.

He wrote a small and eclectic collection of scholarly books mostly connected with medical history.

He kept track of all his friends and relatives and kept in contact with them faithfully over many years.

He had ongoing heart troubles from early years and didn't really expect to live much past his 50's, but in fact he lived out his three score and ten plus a few extra years.   Those were precious years.   

Knowing he had several chronic conditions that could quickly escalate, he got all his things in order well before his death, even choosing his favorite hymns for his memorial service. 

I really miss him.    There's not a day I don't think about him.  Since his actual death was sudden, I did not get to be with him at the end, but because he had prepared so intentionally  for his death and often shared his reflections on his life,  I felt like I got to participate in his life rather than just get pulled along for the ride.  


  1. What a beautiful testament! Thanks for sharing about him though I know you must miss him painfully.

  2. This sounds like a perfect unschooling environment! It's very encouraging and inspiring to read how your father influenced you - I can see, now, where you get your intelligence from, Willa.

    I feel for your loss, Willa - your father must have been a wonderful man.

  3. beautiful, my friend! I miss him, too, for your sake. :)


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