At the risk of my father being embarrassed that I talked so much about him in public, I'm still going to share my Father's Day card to him. One of my earliest and most favorite memories was of us going to meet him coming home from work. He worked in the city, and would ride his bike to work, riding it home across the George Washington Bridge. We would park on the NJ side of the bridge and would meet him halfway, and for the rest of my life one of my most favorite memories will be of that moment my mom would let us go and we would run toward him, arms open to meet him, closed up in his arms, carried back by the strongest thing we knew up on top of that seemingly enormous bridge that came across from the biggest city I had ever seen.
Things I got from my father: my skinniness, my height, my poor eyesight (but we look good in glasses, dad) and my sense of humor (dry? Not sure...), and my drive. I remember how he used to take my Kermit doll and would make it talk (and how Kermit always reminds me of him), the little song he used to sing to me when I was a child (ending with "stinkerpot") and how he used to always put vitamins in my stocking at Christmas.
My dad, who works in molecular biology, has a passion for his work, and from a young age I remember thinking he was the smartest person in the world. He has worked extensively in cancer research, and I'm incredibly proud of him. Over the years, he has traveled to more places than I can count, a lot of which I've got to accompany him to, and we've had many conversations about his work and what it means to him.
His work in finding cancer treatments seemed so important to me, so monumental and so smart. Here I was in high school having problems with math, and struggling through Earth Science. I would listen to him for hours on walks through the woods, just enthralled by the seemingly endless way he could explain things, and wishing I was just as smart as he was. And he would tell me to keep writing, that everyone had their own passion. Just because I struggled in math, struggled with numbers, the struggle didn't mean I wasn't getting it, I was just taking my own way to understanding things. He supported me in anything I wanted to try, he came to my riding shows, he coached my soccer teams, he helped me with school papers, he hiked with me, he traveled with me, he wrote letters to me in college, sometimes just to say hi, I miss you. He would always take the time to find a funny card, one that he thought would make me laugh, something with puppies or a funny animal on it, and I still have every single one of them in a shoebox. One summer we got to spend time in England while my dad was on a business trip, and even though he had to work while we were there he surprised me with tickets to see a Liverpool match (for you non soccer watchers they are a soccer team in England) because at the time I was a huge Micheal Owen fan. He was beat from non-stop meetings, but we drove two hours to get there, got Liverpool scarves and had a ball singing all the Liverpool songs like real fans.
When I finally got the chance to live in New York City in college, one of the best parts was that I got to hop on the subway and have lunch with my dad whenever I wanted. We would talk about my classes, his projects at work, books we were reading, it was the best. We would try all kinds of restaurants, all kinds of food. Sometimes we would go to a new place, sometimes we would go to an old favorite like Mamoun's. One day I was walking down Varick Street on my way to meet my dad. A big guy walked out of the check cashing place, stepped right in front of me, kicked me full force in the stomach and ripped my backpack from me, pushing me to the ground. It was September, and I had just spent a ridiculous amount of money on textbooks. No one around me helped, some people just looked the other way. I didn't scream, I was too shocked to do anything. I caught my breath finally, the tears streaming from my eyes, got up, and walked to my dad's office.
When I saw him, I broke down, I could barely tell him what happened. And I had never seen my father so incredibly angry. Seeing the way he felt, when someone had hurt me, gave me this tiny glimpse into the heart breaking beauty that is parenting. I think it took all his strength to let me get back on the subway back to my dorm that day after lunch. I know he wanted to hold my hand, to make sure I was safe, to make sure I felt safe, and I did. And because he let me go back by myself, I felt like I could handle my new found fear on my own.
Because of your support Dad I have been able to do many things I thought I couldn't do. Like going off the high dive at the swim club, or going to live in Europe by myself, or putting this magazine together all on my own. I don't always know why, or understand how, you have so much confidence in me, but it is the push back I need when I stumble, it is the reassurance I need when I think I'm crazy to have taken on this much work.
Dad...I love you more than I can ever express. My most cherished memories involve us in Sac City, or tramping down that trail in the Palisades while you explained the Big Bang to us, or that time we forgot Moot when we were fishing. Without your support I would have given up. You might have put vitamins in my stocking, but you will always be the smartest person I know, my Daddy. Love you, love you so much.
Love, lbl xoxo