I've been dragging my feet with this week's "Father's Day" post which isn't surprising. I'm always a little envious when people go on about how terrific their fathers are/were. Facebook really amplifies my sense of uncertainty on Father's Day. It will be 15 years next month since my dad passed away. I keep waiting for the profound sense of loss to happen, like I see my friends experiencing. He was not my hero, nor a source of comfort or even good advice! Maybe it's generational. He wasn't mean or a bad person. For whatever reason I learned at a very young age not to expect much from him.
I was the youngest of four children and a strong athlete, so we bonded over my sport successes. He loved all the good news, but wasn't good at dealing with problems. Because of my swimming "career" I had male coaches & team mates who inspired and challenged me. They were my village, so I didn't really feel like I was lacking in strong male role models and guidance. My dad traveled a lot because of his work, so I think emotionally his absence made sense because he was providing for our family. He had a brilliant mind which also contributed to his lopsidedness. My mother used to say, "Don't ask your father what time it is, or he'll tell you how to build a watch!" 😉 That made me laugh because it was true. He could talk about quantum physics for days, but found it very hard to be empathetic and a good listener. He was a solid C minus in the feelings department.
|Arch & Fran Park circa 1990|
Archibald Beverly Park III was born in Chatham, Ontario in 1925. He married my mother Frances Irene Dempster on June 4,1948. They would have been married 70 years this month if they were alive. Hard to imagine. He graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College in 1950 and had a private practice. His clients were mainly farmers in the area, caring for their livestock. He enjoyed his work very much, but he was not a great bill collector which precipitated a career shift. My older siblings were born in Chatham, Ontario before the family moved to the United States where I was born. He applied for US Naturalization in June of 1961.
Pecora Award announcement
Click to enlarge
For the majority of his professional career he worked in and around Washington, DC. He became a highly renown scientist. He worked for NASA, the Department of Agriculture and other government and private agencies. He was a pioneer in the Earth Resource Satellite Program (Landsat), winning many awards and accolades. I did a google search and found a few mentions. This transcript is from a Q and A with Senator Hubert Humphrey in 1976 for the Technology Assessment Board for Food Information Systems. One glance and you can get an idea about what my mother was talking about with her comment about building a watch! He rubbed elbows with people like Carl Sagan and Wernher von Braun. When people would ask "What does your dad do for a living?" I never really knew what to tell them. "He's a rocket scientist" was my go to answer, and it's actually not a bad description!
My latent scientist gene comes out when doing ancestry research. I can pour over dead people for hours, not unlike the way my father used to crunch numbers, review graphs and infared satellite images. It was completely foreign to me as a person with a higher EQ than IQ. My eyes used to glaze over and roll all the way to the back of my head when he'd try to explain anything. I get the same look from people who don't understand my excitement when I find an ancestor in the Scotland Census of 1851.
Welp, glad I have some info about my father here for posterity. I have several fond memories of him. I like to remember the highlights rather than low points when a loved one dies. Putting together the history of an entire family tree branch, you can surmise how people became who they are/were. I will always remember the time we went on a father daughter sailing weekend with friends and the mast broke off the boat, skating on Snow Hill Pond where he would go barrel jumping, and how every stray animal I brought home became part of the family. I hope he is at peace.💝