A Few Thoughts About My Dad
by Karen Chester
Iíve heard that when they announced to my dad that I had been born (in those days the father waited for the news in the waiting room), he fainted. (Interesting start for our relationship.) Still I was his Fatherís Day gift, born the night before Fatherís Day in 1955.
People tell me my mom and dad were really hip in those days, both playing guitar and singing, involved in the folk music scene, the Ash Grove, and all the great places in L.A.
When I was little I remember my dad doing silly things like giving the waitress in the restaurant a phony name. Once it was Me-etch-es-slof-con-schartzky or something like that. ďCan you spell that please?Ē the waitress said looking perplexed. That left a definite impression. I recall singing with dad in the car. He taught me the Eddystone Light and Iíve Got Sixpence. So began a lifelong love of music. Once while in college I was hired to sing at a business conference. After singing all my moving political repertoire the guys requested the Eddystone Light! Of course I knew that one. They all sang along and thought I was great!
I always knew my dad was brilliant. That was the first thing I knew about him. Very quickly I realized I could impress people by saying that my dad was a professor of physics at UCLA and that he was teaching in Europe, at the university in France, Germany, Russia. I was very proud of my dad.
Dad has often said that he lives a blessed life. Itís so true. He has traveled to many countries. Dad once said to me that he liked to arrive in a completely foreign place and learn it so well that he would leave knowing it as well as he knows home. I like that idea and it served me well in my travels. I discovered the joy of knowing a culture different from my own, learning the language, the humor, and the quirks of other people. Of course dad also said, wherever you go Karen, you will find that the people there think they live at the center of the universe. Thatís dad.
Dad advised me to go to the university when I graduated from High School. He wanted me to go to Berkeley but I ended up at Santa Cruz. His advice was to become a physicist (Surprise!). He was ahead of the times though. Most women were not being advised to go into physics. Naturally, I did not listen and chose something more fruitful. Latin American Studies. While Santa Cruz and Latin American Studies were wonderful experiences for me, I soon learned that I had to return to school to become employed. And, I finally did go to Berkeley. It was indeed an adventure and I instantly saw why my father wanted me to be there.
Lately, each time I see dad he surprises me. In our last conversation he said that women have beautiful relationships with each other. I could see that he appreciates how women relate to each other and how it is different than men. I also enjoy watching him with David and Stephen. David takes his important questions about symmetry and dimensions to dad and finds a willing listener. Stephen takes dadsí lessons on his explorations in the forest.
Dad loves to challenge the status quo in any given situation. He loves a good argument (like father, like daughter). Sometimes it is very entertaining. Sometimes itís a real drag. But it keeps life exciting. Dad and I have had our ups and downs. But he is part of my karass (from Cats Cradle which dad introduced me to) for life. It has always been an adventure having Marvin Chester as my dad.
Dad, I have a deep admiration for you. Thank you for the lessons all along the way and I look forward to many more. Happy 70th! Love Karen.