Monday, January 30, 2012

A life well lived

videoI gave up figuring out how to embed audio files in blog posts, and instead just videotaped my telephone. This phone message is remarkable because (1) I've managed to save it for an entire year without accidentally deleting it, and (2) my parents phoned me on my actual birthday last year, as opposed to confidently calling me on the 29th (Frederick Delius's birthday, not mine, but you can understand how someone--even my own parents--could confuse me with Delius, right?).

After living with carcinoid cancer for 25 years, my father passed away three weeks ago, on January 9. Although I suspected it, I didn't realize a year ago that the phone message would be the last time he would sing "happy birthday" to me. I saved the message for remarkable reason #2 above, and also because he sounded so cute ~0:35-0:42. (My mom sounds pretty cute too.)

You think of parents as, you know, just your parents, without always realizing they're amazing people beyond your own corner of the universe. My dad was a math professor, politician, and artist. The summer after I graduated from high school, he taught me how to do triple integrals so I could successfully test out of third semester calculus at the University of Illinois. That was good bonding time, especially after all those tear-filled elementary and secondary school hours of help, with me just wanting to know how to do the problems and him wanting me to actually understand the math. You know how it is. When I thanked him last October for that long ago summer math help, he didn't have any recollection of it--probably because he had been so busy defending civil liberties, taking photographs, and dealing with cancer. In addition to math, my dad also taught me how to stand up for what's right, how to make amazing, crusty, dark pumpernickel bread, and how to write a darn good letter to the editor. I miss him.