Today, my wife and I left Worcester, Mass. without the most precious asset we created for our country.
She’s 18 years old.
She’s gorgeous and smart:
She’s always the loudest person in the room. I turn off my hearing aid sometimes without telling her just to give my ears a rest.
She’s half Japanese American and half German/Irish/Scotch/Welsh/French/Who knows what else. The beauty and brain she got from her mother (I like to think I’m responsible for some of her other good qualities. I’m just not sure which ones).
She’s in her own words “the straightest lesbian” in America (don’t ask me, I didn’t say it).
She love cows, and I don’t mean she loves to eat them. And she’ll tell anyone who asks, and anyone who won’t.
She makes friends easier than Philadelphians scarf down Cheese Steaks, than New Yorkers flip each other off over jaywalking violations, than Rednecks get, well, red necks from too little sun screen and not enough melanin in their necks (i.e. people like me), than – well you get the picture.
One of her grandfathers was a man who revolutionized the earliest computer modeling of hurricane development while working at NYU, NCAR and NOAA (Google the acronyms on your own time).
Her other grandfather was an influential and highly regarded statistician who helped revolutionize the statistical field of sampling theory.
Her Grandmother survived the fire-bombing of Tokyo.
She survived my fumbling attempts at parenting.
Her friends include artists, actors, writers, teachers, bullied kids, people with mental disorders, theater kids, jocks, goth kids, LGBT kids, kids who cut themselves, and (sadly) cute boys.
Others include fundamentalist Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and (I know, how ghastly!) atheists.
One of her best friends includes a young talented American gay now attending a school of the arts in NYC for whom she woke up early last week to see off at the train station because that’s what friends do even if all but one of his other friends was unwilling to do the same.
She always smiles at everyone she meets.
She loves anime and manga (again, Google is your friend).
She loves the Lord of the Rings but not the Twilight series.
She tells me she’s socially awkward one moment and then the next has her two new roommates enchanted with her outgoing and “out there” personality.
She’s a talented painter.
She is a talented pianist.
She aced her AP classes (well until she got senioritis, but she still aced her AP exams).
She did all this despite suffering from ADHD (no, it wasn’t a misdiagnosis and she hates that people don’t take her disorder seriously) and an occasionally severe anxiety disorder, both of which were first diagnosed at the age of seven.
She loves her grandparents and her other relatives who belong to the Tea Party even when they try to tell her everything she believes about justice and equality is wrong and that I brainwashed her into being a “liberal socialist Democrat” (as if she ever listened to anything I had to say!).
She’s a whiz at math and science. Yes, that’s right a “little girl” all of 5′ 2 and 3’4″ is smarter than your average male geek, and more creative to boot.
She’s an ethical vegetarian. She became one after learning about the horrific conditions at factory farms of animals.
She’s a fighter. Tough as nails. Doesn’t take shit from anyone. Never backs down from a fight. Stands up for her beliefs no matter who challenges her. Terrified of the dark, sure, but the bravest person I know. A helluva lot braver than yours truly.
She supports and forgives her friends even when they make mistakes. Even when she has been betrayed by them.
She believes the life every human being has value and deserves society’s support, especially after he or she is born.
She feels we should be judged by how we treat the most vulnerable in our country, not by how how many wars we fight, or millionaires we create at the expense of fairness and justice for all.
She cannot fathom why people want to hurt other people, but she’d like to find a way to make them stop.
She can’t tolerate guns used to kill people around the world, racist acts, prejudice of any kind, greedy corporations that screw over their workers and their consumers, anyone who fails to understand that science is real and the best means we have at understanding reality, and “stupid” people, (i.e., people who engage in any of the foregoing or enable those who do). She’s willing to give them a second chance to redeem themselves, however.
She lost her beloved piano teacher to cancer after spending weeks with him at a local hospice, and gave a heart breaking and yet hilarious eulogy at his funeral, even as she grieved deeply at his passing too young at the age of 64, and still does to this day.
She also helped save the mind and soul of her mother, a pancreatic cancer survivor who suffered brain damage from chemotherapy, and has been brought back from the brink of despair in no small part part because of the tireless efforts of my daughter, who was always there with a smile, a calm word, a gentle touch, a funny joke – whatever it took to make her beloved mother know that she was still needed, still loved, still had something to offer the world despite her cognitive disabilities. Without my daughter’s maturity, support, love and kindness my wife might have been lost to us, not because of her cancer, but because she no longer felt she was worthwhile. My daughter taught her mother that she still has much to offer this world, and returned her to the love of her family, a debt I can never repay.
How specifically will my daughter save the world?
My daughter plans to become a biomedical engineer and wants to create something that will make a difference in the lives of people, people who now die or suffer from lack of adequate treatments for their ailments. Know what? If she says she going to do that, she will.
She and thousands of young, bright, talented committed woman just like her are not going to let the human race go down without a fight just because a lot of old, dead from the neck up white men think making useless piles of money is more important than saving and improving the lives of the species with which all of us poor human beings share this small but invaluable outpost of life in a vast universe of lifelessness.
She is going to change the world for the better, she and her generation.
She and they are not willing to wait for the politicians of this world to lead the way to a better tomorrow. She thinks they are taking too damn long to get with the program.
Don’t you dare bet against her or those other young women out there in the world just as dedicated, brave, committed and compassionate and feisty as she is.
I’m going to miss having her around, but everyone has to make sacrifices these days. Even old farts like me.
She does have TWO big problems. She is not perfect.
She has a boyfriend.
And she is a New England Patriots Fan despite my best efforts to make her see the inherent logic in supporting the Denver Broncos (my team).
Dad is doing his best to live with her imperfections. After all, I’m depending on her and her friends to save the world, so I guess it’s the least I can do.