Today’s Lesson, Pay Attention Students!

My daughter’s name is Abigail while that has always been something I keep out of my writing, today I have a reason to share it.  But we’ll get to to my explanation, let’s talk about learning new things.

Yesterday morning I was trying to go through some work for the office.  Simple enough task and then the phone rings.  Everyone is accustomed to doctor’s offices leaving some automated message reminding you to show up for your appointment.  Only this time when I was ready to hit the #1 for “yes, I get it!” and human voice starting talking to me.  That appointment I had for the end of the week became “We have an opening this afternoon at 2:30.  And when you come, please think about bringing a bag with whatever you might need for the next few days.”

Oh, shit!

So, lots of paperwork later I’m resting comfortably in my room having spent last night reading up on tomorrow’s second attempt as evicting the former roommate from my head.  There were a few boxes left in a corner of the closet that we seemed to have missed, or maybe in my absence a new squatter has found a home?

After years of learning about economics and human behavior, I keep finding myself becoming a novice investigator into the workings of cancer.  When House, M.D. ran on television the former Mrs. Lary would joke about how I either was writing the episodes or knew someone who was inspired by my lacking attitude about human interaction.  It wasn’t in a cruel manner, just a joke about how she thought there were only one person around who was emotionally stunted but used his brain to compensate for other feelings he couldn’t express.

I’m a huge nerd!  I used to watch Star Trek and most of the iterations of spin-offs.  They start by letting people know it’s a show about exploring the farthest reaches of space to gain knowledge.  But the entire time we are reminded that at the same time they are trying to explore the inner workings of relationships, the limitations of humans to grow, basically they are telling us that we haven’t yet begun to understand the possibilities of what is possible.  My family was shocked when I picked up and left Boston after college to teach in Florida.  It was so out of character that they didn’t know how to respond.  I think they worried about the kids more than anything, but after sitting in on a class one day they got it.

There were times when I would visit with my extended family and by the end of a day, the ones who understood the value of learning were sitting in various corners reading.  Sometimes 10 people in complete silence with books propped up against their faces.  It seemed weird when I was 12, but these days I get understand.

In my family it isn’t about learning one thing, it’s about learning everything.  My dad and I can argue about Black Holes.  My mother, she wants to hear about competitive advantages people use in cooperative games.  My brother still likes his music and with an almost 7 year old, biographies of musicians are his thing.  The ex works for a large university and is surrounded by books.  Hell we met while I was managing a bookstore!

So why talk about my daughter’s name?  It came from Abigail Smith Adams, wife of the second President of the U.S. and she’s my aunt.  History is big for me.  Tying those two together was fun.  For quite some time people were afraid I was going to insist on Quincy since I was joking around about that name.  Again, a family thing and if you have ever visited Massachusetts you understand the significance.  It you haven’t, too many things in the greater Boston Area are named for that family, my family.  It was an albatross when I was younger, people knowing that about me.  Expectations of others sometimes blinding them to the fact I was a different person.  These days, I’ll wear the shirt with my family tree on it proudly.

Family is important to me.  Even the ones I can’t stand to be in a room with under any circumstances.  We all have that aunt who we hope finds other plans for the holidays.  Then you realize that even her kids are coming to your place, so you suck it up!

With everything happening to me I wanted Abby to be part of more than just my memories.  Having her name spoken or at least out in the world means that she gets to carry on in ways that I can’t provide for her.  The hardest thing is both hearing her name and not ever hearing her name.  It was a huge problem between me and the former Mrs. Lary, not talking about her in any manner.  It absolutely didn’t work for me, and talking about it absolutely didn’t work for her.  You get past something by dealing with it, not ignoring the 1,000,000 pound gorilla in the room sitting on your chest!

Buried under the tree for Abby in my yard back in Maryland is a small box of letters.  Just things I had needed to get out there.  Included is a card with the following statement –

If I had to chose between breathing and loving you, I would tell you I love you with my last breath.

I had seen the phrase and wrote it down because it was a message I wanted her mother to have, but that changed before I could deliver it.  But it also is something I want my daughter to know.  And while her father is worried about the outcome of tomorrow’s surgery, it’s an important message.

So while I’m still learning about myself, today anyone reading this got to learn a little about her.

Class Dismissed…

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Lazy Learners.”


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