Once again, I beg your indulgence.
As a father I do tend to live vicariously through my daughters. Their successes and adventures are my successes and adventures. This is wholly reasonable. It is, in my opinion, one of the many arguments for a Divine Creator. Unlike most animals, we do maintain familial connections with our offspring throughout their lives. In a strong sense, our immortality is bifurcated. Depending upon our individual theology, our immortal soul survives throughout eternity. But, in a mortal sense, we live on through our “children”.
I put “children” in quotes for a reason. For many… for most… children are naturally produced progeny. For others, the relationship of parent and child is a choice. Some of these relationships are sanctioned by the State, others are not. Yet, when this relationship is formed, the bonds of connection are transcendent, and in a sense, a piece of the elder is transferred to the younger. The chain of immortality begins.
Carolyn is my adopted daughter. She came into my life when she was four and a half years old. Most who see us together believe we are biologically related. Our mannerisms, our sense of humor, our passion for justice (and our antagonism for injustice) all mesh seamlessly together. Most casual observers simply think Sandy’s genes are stronger than mine. (Though quite a few have commented they see physical similarities between Carolyn and me. For that I will be eternally apologetic to her.)
Carolyn went to the University of Oregon and received a Bachelor of Architecture degree. Before graduating she had accepted a position at a large architectural firm with offices around the world. She settled on Los Angeles. I was thrilled! She would be close enough for weekend visits, but not so close that I would end up becoming the perennial “father figure” imposing on her social life. Her relative distance would serve as a guardrail to my obsessive behavior.
After a couple of years there, though, she decided to move to Australia. Yeah… there was a boy involved.
I was both devastated and proud simultaneously.
Alan (now her partner) is a British national and quite an accomplished executive in the large-scale construction industry. He also had a job waiting for him in Sydney.
Things were going well for them there. Carolyn was working at a Sydney based architectural firm and realizing (as many of us do) the reality of her industry was not exactly all that had been advertised in college. Still… she had a job, and she excelled at it.
Then, during a scuba diving trip the two were on in the Philippines, a virus walked out of a lab in Wuhan, China (or someone ate a boiled bat, if you prefer that narrative).
Since neither was an Australian citizen, they were stuck… literally stranded. They could not get back to their home. It was decided, somewhat in a state of extremis, they would fly from Manila to London where Alan’s family lived. After all… this virus thing should only last a week or so, right?
Her firm suffered bankruptcy from the pandemic and she was suddenly unemployed. Alan, ironically, got a bit of a benefit from the experience. His firm, which was based in London, simply transferred him there and gave him a promotion. The two, quite forcibly, said goodbye to Australia and became permanent residents of the UK.
Carolyn was in a quandary. She really could not work (legally at least) until her residency paperwork was completed, and she thought this might be an opportunity to explore areas outside of architecture.
To help us out at Artemis, she began to take on way more projects than she should have been obligated to do. Sandy and I fretted about putting this weight on our daughter… but she was just too damn good at these things not to let her run with it.
Today I learned she has found her calling.
This fall she will be matriculating at Brunel University London in its Master’s Program in Psychology. She has realized something about herself (something, candidly, Sandy and I have known for years); her passion is caring for others.
This is the path she now will be undertaking.
To say I am proud of her is the utmost understatement. I am joyful for her. I am honored she is my daughter, and the passions Sandy and I displayed to her while she was growing up held fast and have taken root.
I remember once, a long time ago, Carolyn and I were on a hike near our house. She could not have been much older then seven or eight. We sat awhile and looked out over the canyon and she said to me, “Dad, I don’t really know what I want to do when I grow up, but I think I want to be an astronaut.”
I told her that being an astronaut requires a lot of schooling.
I remember her just sort of staring at me with that inscrutable look she has.
“Carolyn, don’t be afraid of that. Everything can be taken away from you, except your education. That is something you can never lose.”
That seemed to have an impact on her.
So now, she begins a new exciting journey. Her education continues, and while she will, of course, benefit from that education, so will countless others. The clients and patients who exist down our temporal timeline who know nothing of her and she knows nothing of them, will intersect at some point in the future. But for her care, and the dedication she has towards her growth and their wellbeing… their lives will be improved.
As I said, I could not be more proud.
A number of years ago we flew the University of Oregon flag in front of our house. It stayed there while she completed her studies. It was replaced with the West Point flag when Chaney was a cadet. Now that she has graduated, that flag has been retired.
Now it’s time to secure a Brunel University of London flag!