I am clearing out our family office to make a bedroom for my seven year old son Gavin, who has been sharing a room with his 11 year old brother. I came across this picture of me and my dad. That is me on his right with the life jacket on. My father passed away in 1988, this is not how I remember him. During the 17 years I had with my father, I rarely spent time with him. He was a passionate physician. He worked 7 days a week for what seemed to be 20 hours a day. He made time for his children when he could. Always tried to make it home for dinner but more often than not his meal ended up sitting in the microwave till he made it home after our bed time. Mom was left to take care of us as he worked hard to be the caregiver for those that needed his medical skills. Often traveling with his patients most in need to hospitals in larger cities where they could get better care, since we lived in a small rural town in Illinois (Quincy).
I remember patients of his stopping by our house to drop off firewood, baked goods and produce as payment for services rendered. He explained that his patients needed care, their insurance didn’t cover services and this was all they could afford. He left a profitable clinic practice to run his own private practice because he disagreed with their practice of ordering unneeded tests that the insurance covered. He traveled all over the country to learn more from other doctors to be the best he could be.
As I reflect on my memories of my father, I see myself evolving into him. The good and bad all are showing up.
Since father was a third generation doctor, many in the family applied pressure for me to purse the profession. I resisted because I didn’t want my fathers life of being consumed by his profession. 27 years latter and I see it has happened despite my career choice. Like my father’s passion drove him to learn more and raise his voice in medicine, my passion in education has taken me all over the country and raising my voice for change in education. Being a Lead Fellow for Michigan Educator Voice Fellowship has been rewarding. Helping teachers raise their voice and share their passions needs to happen.
As a father I want a better education system for my 3 wonderful children. I just need to remember to find the balance that my father failed to have with me. I need to take breaks from my passion to spend quality time with my children. Dad did take some breaks, mainly in the summer but they aren’t the memories. I need to remember to take breaks all year round to make the best memories.
Evolving into my father isn’t a bad thing, like all of us he had great qualities and some flaws. His work ethic legacy lives on inside of me. I just need to remember to past the best qualities on to my children, to leave a legacy for them. I want them to remember our fun times, not just me working.