My father is the smartest person that I know. He is a Yale educated physicist; a retired college professor. He has authored published scholarly articles. He can sit and do the New York Times crossword puzzle (any day of the week) in 15 minutes. He continues to work to this day at a research institute.
He is also the quietest person that I know. I don’t mean soft spoken. I mean really, really, quiet. He takes taciturn to a whole new level.
As you might imagine, getting my dad to verbally express his approval of me was nearly impossible. His silent assessment of me paired with his unassailable brilliance, made me long for his admiration.
But it was often a fruitless quest. I tried academic achievement, muted rebellion, and various forms of humor. I couldn’t get the response that I wanted from my Dad. Mostly, I got silence.
Finally, albeit accidentally, I found my way in. Puzzles.
When I began to study for the SAT’s my mother suggested that I sit with my dad and work through the crossword with him to fortify my vocabulary skills.
Each time, I came up with an answer before him (okay, I jumped to the last listed clues and worked my way backwards), he would utter words of pride and approval. From then on, every opportunity that I had I would sit with him and do any sort of puzzle. Jigsaw, crossword, jumble. You name the puzzle we would do it together.
And that chance to connect with my Dad made me love puzzles.
And now, as an attorney, I get to solve puzzles every day. Working through legal issues, client questions, challenges from adversaries, those are my puzzles and my passion.
So, thank you Dad.
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