Her Father's Daughter (and now she's gone)
On Thursday/Friday of this past week, I dropped off my 18-year-old daughter, Katie, at the University of Florida in Gainesville. She graduated high school with a 4.75 weighted GPA, a year's worth of university credits and USD $70,000 in scholarships ... every penny of which was awarded for "merit." She will be majoring in Biomedical Engineering and continuing her almost decade-long research into the cause of, and cure for, Alzheimer's Disease.
For those who follow this blog, you know how close Katie and I are and can imagine, I surmise, the heartbreak our separation entails. It is the end of an era, and the beginning of a new ... and we both know it.
For eighteen years, we have been each other's best friend. And for eighteen years, we've heard a refrain so often that its become part of our shared DNA:
"She is her father's daughter."
The same love of learning. The same taste in music. The same twisted sense of humor. And the same (some would say archaic) reverence for those things which once were called "noble."
Besides being her best friend, I was also her chief mentor ... and chief tormentor ... instilling in her a drive to succeed and an acceptance of the fact that no thing worth having is free. Such ambition was instilled in her in the same manner it was instilled in me ... by the French Foreign Legion. Perhaps predictably, almost everyone I know thinks my "parenting practices" and "teaching techniques" border upon the insane. Who the Hell makes 5-year-olds do push ups?
But as I told Katie and her girlfriends (I did a lot of tutoring):
I will make you very smart or very strong. If you cannot be the former, you will need to be the latter.
The expression, "Warrior-Poet," articulates the fact that human beings have two sides. Strength and beauty are not mutually exclusive, a fact that often seems unidirectional in its understanding ... perhaps explaining why the expression is not "Poet-Warrior." In any event, I reminded Katie to take time to take notice of that which is beautiful, whether in the sensibilities of Aristotle or the sentiments of Shakespeare.
If there was one thing in life at which I wished to succeed more than any other, it was in the raising of my daughter. And, if you'll forgive the conceit, it was an ambition at which I succeeded phenomenally, as evidenced by the result.
The writing of new chapters requires the turning of old pages, an insight both poignant and profound. Life moves forward, and though one is well-advised to learn from the past, one is ill-advised to live there. And so, unable to avoid the inevitable, one settles for waxing poetic.
I leave you with our favorite song. It is also Billy Joel's favorite song, written by him for his daughter. It is a song which reminds us of ourselves.
Best of luck at UF, Little One. You are brilliant and beautiful and in possession of all you will need.
And remember ... Dad is but a phone call away.
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You guys know the QuillDrill. Be verbose ... but articulate.
And remember ...
Go Love a Starving Poet
For God's sake ... they're starving!