Whispered Challenge

April 4, 2012

When my late father retired, he began an emotional quest: to learn as much as he could about the father he never knew. His father walked out never to return when Dad wasn’t yet a month old. The year was 1928. My grandmother, twenty-one at the time, was a newspaper reporter as was the husband who abandoned her and disappeared. He died seven years later.¬†When Dad finished his genealogy work in 1997, he summarized his extensive findings in his signature prose. The engineer always wrote clearly and objectively, like a dispassionate journalist.

While starting my own family-tree research recently to learn about my mother’s hidden roots, I reread Dad’s material. How did I overlook his closing paragraph fifteen years ago? Or was I too immersed in my own media career at the time to appreciate his conclusion?

As a final note, I have learned a great about what my father did, where he went, and when. However, I know virtually nothing about him as a person. I know nothing about his sense of humor, his intelligence, his interest in others, or his feelings about life.

Sadness and regret cry out from behind those words. I also hear a whispered challenge. Dad’s “I know nothing” tells me to dig deeper.