November 4-6, 1970
“I’ll go over there tomorrow to pick up an application,” he said, “and will mail it to you.”
Dad had earned two degrees from Northwestern, both in engineering. He told the story of how he had graduated #2 in the class of 1922 but berated himself for not having been #1. He remembered #1’s name and mentioned how he was the guy who always got to carry the flag in the alumni parade .
Being #2 was highly impressive to me, since I’d been way down in the ranks of my own class. Dad’s advice for doing well in college was interesting. “Don’t take notes in class. Just commit to listening well. Then view every exam as an opportunity to show the professor how much you’ve learned.”
But Dad and I were very different. Maybe that’s why we got along so well and why I was very attached to him. Through all the ups and down of my life, he’d always been in my corner. Success or failure, compliance or rebellion didn’t matter as much as my being his daughter – and I never once doubted his love.
When the Northwestern application arrived in Champaign, it was full of difficult questions requiring lengthy essay answers. After writing my name and address, I stalled, not sure I should even proceed.
It took several days, but my application and I finished on a positive note with the question, “Have any of your family members attended North- western?” I was thankful I had three names to put down: Dad, my Uncle Edward (Dad’s brother), and my Uncle Jack (Mom’s brother).
Nate and I walked to the mailbox together to send off the application. “If I get in,” I said, “I wonder if I can even do the work. If I don’t get in, maybe that’ll be a good thing.”
He challenged me to stay positive. “I’m sure you’ll get in.”
Back at the apartment Cathy came over, toting our chilled chocolate candy – which was ready to be wrapped. We’d done our best to find appropriate boxes, though some had been used for other things.
But when we lined them all up on my pull-down ironing board, it was a sight to behold. We sealed the boxes and divided them up between us with our goal of homemade Christmas gifts now in view. And we’d spent very little money.
As Nate and I got ready for bed that night I said, “You know what? I think making chocolates and candles is probably more up my alley than studying in grad school.”
But I shouldn’t have even said it, since I knew how he would respond. “Don’t worry,” he said. “You’re gonna love it.”
“I will show you the most excellent way.” (1 Corinthians 2:31)