Thursday, August 15, 2013

Happy Birthday Dad!

"Serious Sailor"             2002               Acrylic on canvas
Birthdays are to be celebrated no matter how old you are! Today's post will be dedicated to my father, Dr. Nelson G. Richards.

My Dad was born on August 15th, 1924 somewhere in New Jersey.  He was the youngest of 3 children and the only son.   Dad went to the University of Virginia for both his undergrad and graduate school. At some point during his undergraduate years he served in the military. He met my mom on a blind date and shortly after graduating from medical school he married her. While doing his internship in NYC my older sister and brother were born.  Our family moved to the Washington, DC area (where I was born) for Dad's residency.  A year or two later we moved to Cleveland, OH (my younger brother was born there) where Dad worked at the Cleveland Clinic.  In 1969 we moved to Virginia where my father began his career in private practice as a neurologist first in Roanoke, and then in Richmond.  My parents still live in the same house we moved to in 1973.

Dad was completely admired and adored by his mom, my Grammer. She used to tell us lots of stories about the plans my grandfather (he passed away long ago) had for his son and how proud he was of him.  As a child I remember Dad being larger than life.  He worked so hard and we didn't get to see much of him during the week.  But no matter how late he got home at night I felt safer just because he was in the house.

Dad lived a professional life filled with success, admiration and respect. He treated thousands of patients, taught courses to medical students and mentored young doctors.   He served many years in the 1980s as the president of the American Academy of Neurology, As president of the AAN he took a controversial stand against boxing being called on as an expert and quoted in many articles expressing his concerns.  I am amazed by the work he did and the people who were touched by him.

"Memory of a Storm"          2002                    Mixed Media
One winter Dad built a sailboat in our garage.  Every free moment he spent building, sanding and polishing, sometimes letting us help.  We belonged to a sailing club that held races every weekend. My Dad succeeded again becoming a master sailor, winning many races and regattas. Beautiful silver plates, cups and plaques still decorate the walls. While I don't remember my first sail on Witchcraft, I do know that every time I was on her it was an experience!! One vivid memory was sailing through a storm on a lake in Michigan.  It was Dad, me, Lady (our dog) and one of my siblings (can't remember which).  We were sailing peacefully along when I noticed concern on Dad's face.  "We'd better head back," he said, "a storm's coming." Still miles from the shore, the storm blew in tossing us back and forth.  But I never for a moment worried we would capsize.  Dad told me to hang on to the boat with one hand and Lady with the other. I did just as he said and had no doubt we would be safe. Dad would gets us to shore in one piece.  And he did.

So Happy Birthday Dad!  You are a blessing.  Thanks for all of the love, support and great memories. I'm looking forward to dancing at your 90th!

Now it's your turn:
Create a short biography about someone you love and admire. Add pictures and/or illustrations. Then share it with them or broadcast it to the world like me!

p.s. I hope I got the facts right!

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