Five Things We Get From Our Parents

AlanisIsn’t it ironic…

…don’t you think?

Alanis Morissette-1995

There is a bit of hoopla this year about the 20th anniversary of the release of “Jagged Little Pill,” the Alanis Morisssette album that, at least for awhile, turned the young singer-songwriter into a superstar. Laury was 9 at the time and wanted to buy the album, featuring the song “You Oughta Know”, but Barb and I objected. The lyrics  were even more blatantly sexual than the usual pop music of the time. In a bit of irony, “You Oughta Know” reached our car CD player anyway, by means of the “1996 Grammy Award Nominees” CD. Alanis got her Grammys, and Laury got her song on her dad’s CD player. I hope Alanis has turned out OK, I know Laury has.

As parents we try to bring up our kids in a way that will make them safe and, we hope, reflect who and what we are. In some places and times this becomes impossible, and as Chicagoans and most of the country have read this week, the results can be tragic. But I am a little pensive this  morning, thinking about just what got passed from generation to generation, l’dor v’ v’dor.

  1. Physical appearance–I look in the mirror every morning and see Dad staring back at me. The physical resemblance is now striking. I am taller and a bit huskier, but as far as facial features and  hair color, I have become the man my father was at this stage in his life.  Michael is following our pathway too. A very dominant Y chromosome.
  2. A sense of commitment–I know that Dad woke every morning at 4:10 to make the journey via CTA bus and the El to his white color job, arriving at  by 7 a.m on the dot. No complaints, it is just what he did 6 and occasionally 7 days a week. I follow that almost obsessive pattern, but at least I have modified it to 5 days a week at 5:05. And no need to wait outside in the rain or snow at a bus stop. Dad never learned to drive, I sure as hell did!
  3. Love for a good read–There are three reading habits I picked up from Dad. Time Magazine every week (something I still do), Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine every month (something I fear I have grown away from), and a good novel anytime (something I still love.) Right now I am in the middle of three novels–a Joseph Finder audio CD in the car, a Daniel Silva hardcopy on my nightstand, and “Day of Atonement” on my Kindle for a book club I am joining. Dad would be proud.
  4. Love of baseball–The only sport that Dad enjoyed watching. A love he passed to me, a love I have passed to Michael. Dad never saw a championship, I got mine ten years ago, Michael’s may be right around the corner.
  5. Our lifespan–OK, this one is not precise. But we know that genetics do play a role in how long we will be around. And here is the irony.  Dad died from widely metastatic prostate cancer and, quite coincidentally,  I am spending this part of my professional career diagnosing and aiding the treatment of men with the same disease. I get my annual PSA, I run and raise money for Prostate Cancer Awareness, I gave up red meat (right, yeah, how long did that one last?) Hopefully the good karma will help me combat any bad gene juju that may have gotten passed down the line.

Not much on the house…signed a few papers for the Homeowners Association and now they have officially blessed us. I suppose they used Holy Water from the pond next to the lot. May the Good Lord have us digging before the pond becomes an ice rink.

OK–we got somber and introspective today. Have a great weekend and I promise lots of laughs by Monday!

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