I took my Dad back to Columbia, Missouri in October of 2018. In the process I helped fulfill a long request and desire of my Dad. Dad once worked for the University of Missouri, and then he left for California. He wanted to stay but left with the hope of coming back to academic medicine. When I was in Columbia and on the campus of the University of Missouri a thought popped in my head. How would my life have been different had I grown up in Missouri and not California?
“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.“
George Bernard Shaw
Instead of watching football games with Dad at Fresno State, would the Zou have been a place I would have known well?
After my Dad finished his medical studies at the University of Washington he took a job teaching neurosurgery at the University of Missouri in Columbia. He taught there and loved the area. My parents purchased a small house. I remember my Mom telling me about how they once found a snake in the bedroom. Dad with his 8 MM recorded the landing on the moon on July 20, 1969 from the television. He talked about that later in life. He decided to leave the staff at the University of Missouri at Columbia in 1972 and went into private practice in Fresno, California. Dad didn’t want to leave Columbia he actually talked about going back to Missouri. But he never did, instead he lived out his life practicing medicine in California. All his life Dad wanted to see many of the medical schools that he deeply loved. After Mom’s death I spoke with my family and we took back Dad to Columbia, Missouri. It turned out to be his last trip he would ever take, but he fulfilled a dream to see Columbia again.
I grew up hearing about Columbia, Missouri in California . I heard my Mom talk about the ice storms in Missouri. Dad talked about hunting pheasant out in the country. They shared memories of buying their first German Shorthair Pointer, Kurt. So all this was on my mind when we took Dad back. Wondering around my Dad’s old stomping ground at the University of Missouri raised a lot of questions in my mind. That included one of the biggest that has been on my mind for months. How would my life have been different if I grew up in Missouri instead of California?
How Would I Be Different Had I Grown up in Missouri?
I grew up in Fresno, California and was born in the 1970’s. How would life have been different had I grew up in Missouri? Instead of going to San Joaquin Memorial High School in Fresno, would I have attended a public school in Columbia? According to my research it appears as if Columbia didn’t have a Catholic High School in the 1990’s. Father Tolton Regional Catholic High School opened up in 2010. Would I have attended David Hickman High School or Rock Bridge? What about doing the Boy Scouts? In California I was a part of Troop # 130. I camped at the Pinnacles, Yosemite and went to San Francisco. I attended Boy Scout Camp at Chawanakee, Cherry Valley and Glacier Trails in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. What would have happened had I grew up in Columbia? Would I have done Boy Scout Camp at H Row Bartle Scout Reservation in Osceloa, Missouri and Camp Arrowhead in Marshfield, Missouri?
Growing up meant watching Fresno State Football games in Fresno. Wearing Bulldog t-shirts and watching Fresno State play Boise State, BYU, New Mexico, or Utah. If I grew up in Columbia would I be wearing a lot of Mizzou t-shirts? Would my closet today be filled with them? If I went with my Dad to Mizzou football games would I have watched Missouri play Kansas, Northwestern, Colorado, or Oklahoma? Would I have memories or watching Missouri football games with my Dad? Instead of hot Central Valley summers would I have been familiar with Missouri winters and ice storms? Would I have grown up with blizzards? Mom and Dad took me to Los Angeles and San Francisco a few times when growing up. I remember when they wanted me to see musical theater and took me to Los Angeles to see Les Miserables. What would have happened had I lived in Columbia? Would they have taken me to St. Louis or Kansas City for cultural experiences? For college I am sure I would have gone to Montana and that part of my life would have remained the same. Instead of going to the Midwest, would I have had a desire to move to the West Coast and see a part of the country I never knew had I grown up in Missouri? I don’t know. I found myself thinking about such questions when I was with my Dad in Columbia, Missouri. How would my life have been different had Dad stayed, or returned like he wanted to one day? How would my personality be different? What part of Missouri culture would I pick up? One thing that saddens me is that while I would have had a different set of friends, I think of the people who I love in California who I wouldn’t have gotten to know. This aspect breaks my heart.
How Life Could Have Changed So Much….
My life could have been quite different had Dad stayed in Columbia. As I think about this post I am reminded of how some people in history found themselves in positions they never expected. And it led to a life they never knew. One of my favorite stories emerged in a Montana history class in college that I never forget. It dealt with Montana Senator Burton K Wheeler. Wheeler in the early part of the 20th century got off a train in Butte, Montana. All he had was his belongings as he intended to travel to his final destination. However, Wheeler entered into a poker game and risked everything. As a result he lost everything, even his train ticket. Broke, stuck and stranded in Butte he got a job in the local law community and practiced law. He would go on to become one of Montana’s most well known politicians. He is remembered for his fierce battles with Franklin Roosevelt over trying to expand the Supreme Court and pack it. Chances are that none of that would have happened had he not lost a poker game. In my case my Dad left Columbia and he never went back.I grew up a Californian and not from Missouri. It really amazes me as to how much a decision can change life, or even affect others.