My DAD – not my biological father whom I searched for at age 27. But that’s another story.
WHY is dad my idol?
I was conceived by rape; my mother felt too guilty and ashamed to want me. She met my dad-to-be when 5 months pregnant, returning from WWII, having met my dad-to-be as her diabetic patient.
They fell in love.
Often, I have written essays about the fabulous, extraordinary dad who chose to write his name on my birth certificate. How I felt loved as much as his 2 biological children born after me.
I can’t help it.
I could write a long list of WHY I love dad more everyday: as a baby he fed me, as a child he bathed me, carved a wooden doll bed, built a high swing set, and crafted a club house out of a radio-telescope crate brought home from his work as a radio-astronomer, played badminton with me after supper which he reliably showed up for at 5:30pm daily, opening his car door to lift me or my sister onto his lap to rumble up the driveway, asked his secretary to type my high school junior theme: Utopia, carved a water wheel with paddles turned by the small stream in our back yard, (I’m feeling sad), carved a whistle out of a willow branch during one of our many Sunday afternoon walks in nature, wrote vulnerable weekly letters to me while attending nursing school and early married life (tears appear), occasionally enjoyed clothes shopping with me, proudly led me down the aisle to my first husband, held my two young daughters often (crying now), etc. I must add feeling his shoulder next to mine while reading bedtime stories and supporting my questioning of mother’s rigid Christian beliefs of the bible.
Or I could write of the only-time he spanked me, the only-time I remember seeing his tender brown eyes glazed by a tear (sobbing). Or the only-time he ever yelled at me: STOP! As he was teaching me to drive our VW bug stick-shift.
Some family members still ask WHY I cry when speaking of how I miss his presence, he having died of a sudden heart attack in 1977. I miss his present: love (double meaning like being doubly loved.) As Adele Sweetman (apropos) writes in The SUN correspondence January 2023, “Missing her means you loved her…and that she loved you. Missing her means that all that love hasn’t gone anywhere.”
Just this past weekend, January 28, 2023, while walking my husband Dave across Cornell University’s campus to view several waterfalls, one from the suspension bridge, then across the arts quad, I spontaneously wanted to show Dave where my dad’s office was in the Space Sciences building, where a plaque in his memory I hoped still hung, where I had not been present for over a decade.
I was happily surprised to find the door open on Sunday, where I gloated proudly reading: “In MEMORY OF S. Michel Colbert, staff member of CRSR 1959-1977: “His talents, enthusiasm, and dedication were responsible in large measure for the design, construction and outfitting of the space sciences building in 1967.”
I am a Marriage and Family Therapist of 30 years because my space sciences daddy was way ahead of his time: an equally involved parent in the 50s, and 60s and then volunteering in the 70s for Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service before it was fashionable for men.
My dad worked for Carl Sagan of Cosmos fame, where in The SUN SUNBEAMS he is quoted: “Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us – there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.”
LOVE… I think to myself.
I am who I am today in large measure because of dad’s extraordinary love.
At age 76, I am over the moon in love with my dad.
“There is an eternal (universal) truth and that is love.” – author unknown