My love of the nature and the outdoors
While my father's interests led him in the biological/medical direction and mine into technology, a love of science is something we both shared. He held essentially an engineering position in the navy as a Fire Control Technician. In college, he obtained a degree in Zoology before entering Veterinary School at Davis. Certainly nobody else in my family was quite the "nerd" that I was growing up, but it was my father who instilled in me a deep respect for math, science and logic. I remember many times sharing my excitement over the glorified descriptions of new discoveries and developments I'd read about in my Omni magazines or discussing some new science fiction book I'd just finished.
I will always remember the first time I ever saw my dad cry. My parents had our dog Kippy, a beautiful white Samoyed, before they had kids. When my dad had to put him to sleep, it was one of the most painful things he ever had to do. He described it to us, explaining that his hands were physically shaking while performing the procedure. I believe he felt it important not only to share with us the necessity of letting this family member go, but also for us to see how much it took from him.
After finishing high school in Canada, my dad immigrated to the United States and joined the navy. From there he entered college in Southern California, met and fell in love with a young woman named Gail Rose and asked her to marry him. They had a couple of children, though not necessarily according to plan. So it was that they found themselves a few years later living in Davis, working and raising kids while my dad attended Veterinary School at the University. Both my parents worked incredibly hard always believing that pursuing your dreams meant putting in the effort.
After moving the family around for a few years and working for others, my dad eventually did find his dream. He purchased his own practice in Concord, CA and then we found a house with 3-1/2 acres of land about 10 miles outside the small town of Clayton. This is the house where I consider myself to have grown up and this is where I believe my father was happiest in his life. He loved Oak Hill Lane and even wrote a cheesy little poem about it (I guess bad poetry is something else I share with him):
We're all living on Oak Hill Lane....
We may be old, but at least we're sane
We love living with Mother Earth
But, also save time for a little mirth
We don't care what flatlanders say
We'll stick together every day
Sometimes we're healthy, sometimes we're ill
But, we're always living on the hill
We love where we're living and love to share
Just don't put us in a rocking chair
In my mind, I will always picture him there.
It's a Wednesday afternoon and he's home from the office early. He probably hauled a load or two of water in his truck then walked around the house on the deck he'd built. He checks on the vegetable garden and flowers that he and my mother planted. I believe these simple acts gave him a deep sense of pride, a feeling that can only be experienced by obtaining goals for which one has worked his entire life. Finally, sitting in his recliner, reading the paper or watching the Giants on TV, he's relaxing. He's happy. He's at peace.