My Father

Dad was a very smart man. One of his jobs early in his career required him to use ENIAC, the new ‘Giant Brain’[1]. Mom said that everything was air conditioned at his office except where the people were working. He once told me of a conversation he had with John von Neumann, preeminent 20th century mathematician[2]. Dad loved music, mathematics, physics and the outdoors. Most of all, I think, he loved his family. He had his faults and I wish that I were able to communicate with him better. Many in the family had that wish. But he didn’t have a mean bone in his body.

autistic child and father

He told me once, his feelings about Michael:

“I would daydream about how I would teach our child about the tremendous scope of nature in all its ramifications, from botany and zoology to chemistry and physics, to the esoteric fields of quantum mechanics with its weird physical implications, to mathematics with its abstract reasoning. I thought of how learning could snowball in the sense that knowing more would whet the appetite to learn more, and there is no end to what the human brain can learn and use. Little did I know! When Mike came on the scene, I never got a chance to even get started on fulfilling my dream of teaching him, for the bitter irony of it all was that your mother and I could not even communicate the simplest of ideas to that poor unfortunate autistic child.”

From a conversation with my father.

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