Rainy Monday mornings are sometimes tough to take, especially when you’re trying to get a sleepy 11-year-old out of his warm bed to face another week of school. But today not even this unpleasant task couldn’t dampen my day. Today was my Dad’s 79th birthday, and this milestone reminded me yet again that each day we’re around, rainy or sunny or snowy, is really one to be cherished.
My Dad likes to think of himself as a curmudgeon, and maybe it’s not such a bad description. But for all the challenges he’s been through over the past six years, I think he’s got a right to be a little curmudgeonly now and then. He sent out an email reflecting on the day, and I don’t think he’d mind if I post few quotes
“Someone asked me if there was anything remarkable about Monday of this week and my answer was yes and no. No in the sense that it was just one of the 28,854 (give or take a few as I am not sure the time spent in Cleveland counts) days I had by then lived through. Yes in the sense that if you do the arithmetic it comes out to be exactly 79 years and just the day before I had been only 78 years old. But to tell the truth I don’t feel any different. I still have the same agues and agonies that I had before. But it was an occasion to reflect on what if anything I had accomplished and learned in these 79 years.
Starting with the accomplishments, as it won’t take long, the first and most important is that I helped two brand new human beings grow up to be outstanding people. And I do believe that I made a difference in the quality of life for a lot of folks who suffered from epilepsy. Anything else is probably offset by the harm I have done.”
Even though most of you don’t know him personally, I imagine you have a sense of his humble and humorous nature after reading just these few paragraphs. He is really a remarkable man who was one of the foremost researchers in the field of epilepsy during his career, who worked tirelessly to help people and bring understanding and compassion to an often misunderstood disease.
Growing up, I consider my Dad a great role model who taught me more than I could ever quantify, but a few particulars stand out (in no particular order): He taught me to fish; to develop a worth ethic; compassion for others; to love sushi; to love to read; to drive a manual transmission; how to check your child’s Halloween candy for dangerous items; to play a clarinet; to appreciate Big-10 football and hockey; and to love and respect your children.
There is one thing I could never quite figure out, though, that my Dad always told me I would someday learn from him: How to be a morning person. Unfortunately, it seems that through decades of observation and diligent effort, I’m not able to follow in his footsteps, and, apparently neither is his grandson. Happy Birthday, Dad!