On My Father's Life
I wish I had known him. To this day I sometimes sit, just looking at his photograph (above, far left), wishing we could talk. I was barely nine years old when my father was killed in a wreck. He was always a workaholic, and he loved what he did. He would grade papers until the wee hours of the morning, then commute 60+ miles to UNC-Chapel Hill (where he taught Economics), yet I never remember him being tired. I know he adored us - his family, but the greatest love of his life, I think, was teaching ... and learning.
He was a paradox of sorts, born into a very poor Ukrainian family with barely a roof over his head and a dirt floor beneath his feet. But by the time he died, he had worked and struggled long enough to be awarded a scholarship, a fellowship to the University of Warsaw, and finally his doctorate in (Soviet) Economics. He taught himself to speak English and though he retained that 'Henry-Kissinger' accent, he knew the language as well as I do. He loved this country with the passion of only those who have known life without the freedoms we so take for granted. He and my mother owned a home and were well on their way to "living the Perfect American Dream", as he joked. For a little boy whose family had suffered Hitler's reign, this was a VERY big deal.
He was great fun as a parent; he actually knew how to play! He was an optimist and I believe I inherited my belief in the positive from him. He taught me to achieve, and because I knew he believed in me, I believed in myself. I loved competition! I never remember feeling fear until the day my father died.
My parents (much like today's boomers) didn't believe in corporal punishment. They did not spank; they discussed. Sometimes I wished they would just stop talking, swat my bottom and let me go back outside!
I found this old, torn newspaper clipping in a pile of family keepsakes - I intend to have it 'reconstructed' and laminated.
Our local paper did the story when Dad came home from a year's study at the University of Warsaw - which completed (whew!) his dissertation.
Updated June 2003.