What I Got From My Dad

This may be sort of rambling, so, fair warning.

On the drive to work this morning, “Katmandu” by Bob Seger came on the CD player (shut up – I’m 41 years old, and I still have a CD player in the car). It got me thinking about my dad, and the things I inherited from him.

Anyone who’s ever seen me and my mother knows what I got from my mom. It’s a family joke that first daughters appear to be clones of their mothers, with no obvious genetic contribution from Dad, and if you’ve seen my daughter, you know there’s a fair amount of evidence for that hypothesis. I am almost a physical duplicate of my mother, and the personality is largely, though not entirely, duplicated as well. Upon cursory examination, it might seem like Dad’s alleles got left out entirely.

But they didn’t. My dad was a drummer and singer in rock and roll bands for most of his life. He didn’t make his living at it during his later years, but if you asked him what he was (as opposed to what he did), one of the answers would be “I’m a drummer.” My dad, among other things, taught me to appreciate Ringo Starr, who, as it turns out, is one hell of a drummer. One of the best in the business. You can argue this point with me, but you’ll be wrong, and I will take you down. Just so we’re clear.

Many of my earliest memories are of hotel rooms in various towns across the West, where Dad had weekend gigs. (Shoutout to the Black Bart Inn, in San Andreas, California, where Nat and I always got to have hot chocolate with whipped cream with breakfast and pay the check in the restaurant. I remember the rooms in that hotel vividly – we were there many times. Oh, and check out the Twain Hart Lodge, too, if you get a chance. We did a lot of driving around the Gold Country.)

I also have lots of memories of Dad practicing. There are some awesome photos of me, as a young girl, striding across a stage amid a band setting up for that evening’s gig. So, how this relates to Katmandu? That was one of Dad’s songs. I have lots of memories of him singing that song.

So, what did I get from my dad? Well, my singing voice. My dad was an outstanding singer, and I seem to have inherited some of that talent. I never used it much before I had kids (too shy and self-conscious), but my kids love to hear me sing, and…turns out I don’t suck at it. I’m pretty good. With a little voice training, I might be really good.

But the thing I really got from my dad, the one I owe him (or, at least, his alleles) for big time? My love of performing.

I am a teacher. When you ask me “what” I am, that’s one of the answers you get. I am one HELL of a teacher. It’s one area of my life where I never question myself. And a big part of that is the performance. Put me in a lecture hall, and I’m on. I am exceptionally good at lecturing to an audience of students, and I love it. I’m mostly an introvert…until you put me in a classroom. Then I get that energy rush that extroverts talk about after they’ve been to a great party. It’s this aspect of my personality that comes from Dad. He was also an introvert – didn’t really like social gatherings, would rather stay at home and interact with a tiny number of people for the rest of his life…except that he loved to be onstage. He loved to drum, and sing. He was a performer.

It never occurred to me until this morning – that’s what we really had/have in common. My dad would have loved to watch me teach. He would have (finally) seen himself in me.

If I ever get out of here, I’m going to Katmandu….


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