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Brain science

Happy birthday, my Dad!

It's my dad's birthday today. I won't tell you how old he is, but I've been going around singing a certain Beatles song about getting older and losing your hair and it's wonderfully appropriate. Even though I have a beautiful voice and remember all the words, my dad did not enjoy it. 

Anyway, I thought I would tell you a bit about my dad, even though he 1) doesn't like my blog "persona" (I DON'T HAVE ONE!) (do I?) and 2) would not at all enjoy becoming Internet Famous. But what are blogs for if not to aid you in alienating your family members? 

The first thing you should know about my dad is that even though he is constantly complaining about children - his own, his grandchildren, other people's children, children all up in his business and his house and disturbing his peace and quiet and HE MUST HAVE HIS LIBRARY! - he has five of his own and spent his entire career dealing with them so OBVS he is a BIG FAT LIAR. 

One of my most embarrassing moments turned to fond memories is that of hearing my very own father outside my 5th grade classroom chewing out some delinquent 6th grade boy in the hall. "OOOOOH," everyone looked at me, "is that your DAD?!"

(I once went to a dance with a boy who had been one of my Dad's "problem students". HAAAA.)

He taught several different grades through the years and I am now all of 34 years old, but I will forever think of him as a sixth grade teacher and sixth graders as big kids. Always. The end. I mean, he had a PODIUM. Did YOUR sixth grade teacher have a podium?!

When we lived in Sicily my mom (my MOM!) went on a business trip. And she was going to leave us with DAD? REALLY? But nothing was all that different except for being forced to eat vegetables at dinnertime. I don't ever remember my mother (not a fan of vegetables herself) insisting on us eating something, but my dad would not let us leave the table until we ate one (1) green bean. I believe I finally swallowed mine with a glass of milk, but my sister is still sitting at that table. 

Because of my dad I've seen every ancient Greek or Roman ruin in Italy. Almost.

We went to London one summer and each of us had to write a Case Report. I am still not sure what a Case Report is. We picked our own topics - I chose the British Royalty, duh - and then we had to research and write and illustrate. My only memory from this experience is wondering if our tour of the Crown Jewels was everrrrr going to end. 

Other summers my dad bought math books - Saxon? Is that a homeschooling series? - and we had to do lessons on our own. This was horrible. These books, oh, they were big and fat and heavy and the print was teeny tiny and there were SO MANY PROBLEMS to solve. I hated those stupid math books. And see what good it did me, Dad?! WHY DID YOU BOTHER.

If you ask my dad a question he will give you the entire background, reasoning, thought process, anecdotal details, and relevant reading, in addition to the answer. I used to make fun of this until I realized that, uh, I do it too. Ahem. I bet if my dad took the Strengthfinders quiz, Context would be in his top 5, just like me. 

Twelve years ago yesterday I called my dad on the phone - he was in Italy, I was in my apartment in Seattle - and we watched TV together and cried. 

When I thought I would join JROTC in high school because there was a good chance I could get college paid for, my dad said, "Now... are you SURE you want to do that?"

When I thought I would go to a small liberal arts college in the Midwest where I knew no one, my dad said, "Now... are you SURE you want to do that?"

When I was absolutely determined to go live in China for a year and be an English teacher, even though I was also experiencing High Levels of Crazy, possibly to do with the fact that I was forcing my own self to go to China for a year and be an English teacher, my dad called me on the phone - he was in Italy, I was in a different apartment in Seattle - and said, "Now Maggie? This doesn't sound like a good idea..."

After 20 years he finally got me to read a few war books. And then keeled over from shock when I said I think it would be fascinating to visit battlefields in northern Europe. (But he will never get me to go to Gettysburg.)

He's told me at varying points that I am named after Margaret Thatcher and/or Meg from A Wrinkle In Time. My mother says neither of those things are true. 

I remember asking him what "divorce" meant and the answer being "you will never ever have to worry about that."

We ate chocolate pie in honor of his birthday this weekend (and sang wonderfully appropriate Beatles tunes), but I bet he's spending his actual birthday afternoon alone in his nice quiet house, a book half-falling out of his hands, snoring on the couch. He's so great. Happy birthday, Dad! 



Hee, I made my children sing that song to my mom recently. She had to appreciate it because her grandbabies were singing.

My dad's birthday was yesterday. Happy Birthday to both of them!


What a sweet tribute, Maggie. My dad *has* dragged me through Gettysburg and made me photograph every battlefield. Numerous times. And every time he says goodnight, he does it by saying, "goodnight, Irene." On September 11, he sent me and my brother an email (he called too, but the email is what stands out to me) saying, "be safe. I love you." Prior to that day, I don't recall ever having heard those words from him. I will never forget that email. (And now I hear them much more often.)


That divorce thing brought tears to my eyes.


Because of my dad, I've seen every Greek and Roman ruin in Britain.

I suspect that our dads are rather similar. Happy birthday, Maggie's Dad!


This was really really sweet. Also funny. You and your dad are both blessed. Happy (one day belated) birthday to your dad!


I've gone to every airplane museum in the US (almost) because of my dad. And I'm with Rachel- that divorce thing made me tear up. What a blessing it is to have parents who stuck it out. (Mine are going on 42 years of marriage and D's are celebrating 50 this December). Happy birthday to your Dad! He sounds like a cool dude.

Pamela Elliott Gammill

This was a wonderful tribute to your dad and a very special read. It made me both smile and tear up, because I can just hear him saying "You will never ever have to worry about that." and I still miss hearing his booming voice across the hall. My hallway still seems lonely since your parents retired. He's a very wise man and you are very lucky to have him.

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