lifes big questions

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How Can I Leave a Lasting Legacy?
When my father was diagnosed with cancer two years ago, I knew the bare bones of his history. He was a Californian, one of seven siblings, and had a passion for sailing. But the person he'd been before I came along was unimaginable to me. Suddenly I wanted to know—needed to know—about all he'd seen and done. So I asked him to tell me the stories of his life, and he told me to ask him anything.

He's witnessed riots in L.A., worked in a mercury mine, backpacked the John Muir Trail. He was a conscientious objector during Vietnam and regrets that he never finished college. One day he said, "Why haven't you asked me about my first great love?" And then I realized that it was as important for him to share as it was for me to listen. Through his stories, my father has given me his whole self, comprehensible and real. I know him as someone who has loved and lost, veered off course and righted his direction. To me, despite his illness, he has never seemed more alive.

Abbe Wright is an assistant editor at O.


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