Richard Compton Lamb (senior)

Memories of my father

Dad Nate Note Dave (high)My father (Richard C. Lamb, senior) passed away yesterday (Feb 10, 2018). 

While it wasn’t a shock, he was 84 and in hospice, we are still really sad.

I have hundreds, but I’ll share only three memories of dad here.

When I was young Dad would play ping-pong with me and my brothers.  Most fathers in these situations would show compassion to their young children as they learned the basics of the game, letting them win points, get close, perhaps even “win” the game.  In this regard, Dad was not like most fathers.  He would say, “I’m going to beat you 21-0!”  He would then proceed to beat me…21-0.  Perhaps not compassionate in this regard, but honest.  I learned about competition from my father.

When I was in grade school, my father switched fields of research, from high energy physics (think quarks) to gamma ray astrophysics (think quasars).  When I told people what my dad did, I liked to say, “It’s not rocket science.  It’s far more complicated than that.”  At the time of my dad’s research transition, I didn’t really understand why he did it, but I knew it was a big deal, highly risky professionally.  For biblical scholars, it would be like switching from the Old Testament to the New Testament.  Mom later explained it me.  Dad’s high energy research required him to make a lot of trips back to Argonne National Lab (outside Chicago), which meant he was traveling a lot, far more than he wanted to.  Doing astrophysics gave him more time at home, more time with his family (more time to beat his sons in ping-pong).  I loved having time with dad growing up.  I learned about fathering from my father.

When mom was battling Alzheimer’s, dad took care of her for years at their home, until it became dangerous for mom.  Finally, mom moved over to Richmond Place (in Lexington, KY) where they had more resources.  Whenever my family and I would go to visit them, dad would often say, “Let’s go over to Richmond Place and visit Jane.”  He would drive over to see her 2-3 times a day, seven days a week.  At the end of her life he would feed her, tease her, sing to her–some how make her smile.  Dad’s college roommate at MIT was from Northfield, Minnesota, so dad learned the St. Olaf fight song, which he taught to mom.  Because of the development of her Alzheimer’s, at their 50th anniversary celebration mom could no longer converse, interact, or really engage with anyone.  But she could still stare into dad’s eyes and sing harmony, to his melody.  They sang,
We come from St. Olaf…
Um Ya Ya, Um Ya Ya,
Um Ya Ya, Um Ya Ya,
Um Ya Ya, Um Ya Ya,
Um Ya Ya, Ya.

They really loved each other.  I learned about husbanding from my father.

Dad loved competition.  He loved his children.  He loved his wife.  But most significantly, he loved Jesus.  We’re sad and we miss him.

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