Paper Towels, Medical Reports and Basket Weaving, Oh My! (My Real Absurdly Unique Dad)

Paper Towels, Medical Reports and Basket Weaving, Oh My! (My Real Absurdly Unique Dad)

It’s a random title, right? Yet that’s what pops into my head when I think about my Dad. He’s a simple man with a complex witty mind and I am often bewildered by the things he does and shares. Most of the time I laugh or shake my head at the stuff he comes up with, but then sometime later I realize how it truly connects to him and resonates with me.

When I was younger, my dad often said “Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.” I know there is a great lesson in this quote, but being a snarky teenager, all I could think was, “I’m not showing you any of my friends, you will just embarrass me!” My Dad was notorious for blurting out observations and humiliating me in front of my friends. I would tell him, “When you pick me up at the movie theatre, please park at the far end of parking lot and I will find you.” Well that was all he needed to hear to do the exact opposite. He would come speeding into the theatre parking lot in his 1976 Ford F150 truck, beeping his horn loudly. Then he would park right in front and jump out waving his hands in the air yelling “Hey Maura, your cool Dad is over here!” Oh how I wanted to camouflage myself and deny any association with that crazy man!

As the years passed and I finally outgrew my self-centered teenage status, I became more aware of how my Dad really is a wonderfully unique man. He was raised in New York City, the only child of Irish immigrants, whose education did not go beyond elementary school. He worked diligently to achieve and surpass his parents’ accomplishments. He became a physician after studying at a medical school in Switzerland, where upon arrival he had not spoken German a day in his life, yet mastered the language quickly. He then built his own medical practice, serving a great community in New Jersey. I remember him getting phone calls in the middle of the night, talking with hospital nurses and listening intently to his patients. And among all this brilliance and compassion that I witnessed, he was still my quirky, loving Dad.

My Dad loves medicine and he is fascinated by human beings and the world around us. He shares this enthusiasm by sending me copies of the Center for Disease Control reports and the Mortality and Morbidity reports (uplifting reading material!). I often get letters in the mail (yes he still uses the US Postal Service!) from him with copies of medical journal stories or excerpts from  “The Economist” about medical advancements or warfare. He says that we should all be informed and even includes my young children in what he calls “interesting fun”! Because learning about the latest disease epidemic and deaths around the world is oh so fun?!?

He has an obsession with paper towels and I have no idea how it all started. There is always a paper towel in his pocket or lying on the counter nearby or on his desk or in his car or in his book. He would tell me that it is a simple multi-purpose item that can be used for clean-ups, bandages, bookmarks, notepaper, and more. If you need to find my Dad, just follow the trail of paper towels. I don’t know why Bounty never contacted the man to endorse their product!

He went to Hawaii recently and came back with a new-found respect for basket weaving. Doesn’t everyone go to Hawaii and come back raving about basket weaving? Who cares about the beaches and wondrous natural beauty of the islands, let’s talk about the history of basket weaving! He copied information on the topic from his 1970s circa set of World Book Encyclopedias (who needs Google when you have outdated reference books?!) and told me to read about it for our next discussion. He even gave me samples of the material used to make baskets, that he picked up while watching workers weave. I’m holding on to this just in case I decide to make my own basket someday instead of buying one at Target!

A few years ago he said, “I’d much rather have my face in a book than be on Facebook.” Well you’re not on FB, Dad, but you inspired me to write this blog because I love you and all your crazy, nutty, tender, and compelling words of wisdom. I know that through all your frankness, you are sharing a part of yourself with me and now your grandchildren too. You have raised my awareness in the world, shifted my perspectives, and exemplified keeping true to yourself even when it goes against the “norm”. You are an amazing father and role model and I will proudly show my friends to you anytime!

FavoriteLoadingAdd to favorites    
Profile photo of Maura McCarthy-Sanborn
I'm a Professional Life coach with a combined background in recruiting, accounting, finance and start-up businesses. I'm a proud (and sometimes frazzled!) single mom of 3 silly smart kids. I am passionate about my community and a volunteer/ Board member for nonprofits focused on breast cancer. I exercise daily (especially running) because it energizes and centers me. If I had freedom to do anything, it would be to travel and meet people everywhere!

1 Comment

  1. Great start, Maura!

    Reply Report comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>