My dad is turning 75 this year and I have been trying to put together a family tree for his birthday in December. I am easily sentimental and this project has made me think a lot about how much we are inventions. The scattered pile of leaves that all came from somewhere.
Father: 1935 Orphan NY, Foundling Hospital. 1st generation Irish-American. Valhalla foster home. Airforce-Korean War. Printer. Salesman. Entrepreuner.
Mother: Left Cuba as a teenager. U.S.A. via Spain. Immigrant. Fluent in many languages. Great at math. Sales. Secretary. Family Business. Green Thumb.
Our family joke is that I am what you get when two vacuum cleaner salespeople fall in love.
Unlike my younger brother who seems cut from their mold, it's sometimes hard for me to relate to my parents. I am bookish, progressive, feminist, creative. They are fun-loving, extroverted, great dancers, home owners, schemers. My parents have no more than high school educations but plenty of street smarts and ambition. They like living in Florida because of the warm weather. When I had to leave college, I chose to move to Cambridge because it has the 2nd biggest library in the country.
I've always thought I didn't get their "entrepreneur" gene but maybe it's the same dreamer-spirit that leads them to want to build businesses and me to create social change and work every day to get more women elected.
My grandparents were all gone (or never known) before I finished middle school but I wonder how they would have felt knowing that scrawny, shy, kid has met three U.S. Presidents, a dozen Governors and Senators.
The self-made daughter of self-made mother and father of self-made mothers and fathers.