Remembering My Dad

I’ve already posted about one of my favorite new websites, 43things. Today I ran across another “thing” (i.e. goal) that someone else had written, and I added it to my own list:

Make my dad proud of me.

When my dad passed away in 1998, I spoke (at the memorial service) of how my brothers, my sister, and I were our father’s “Unfinished Tales,” — a borrowed title from a collection of posthumously published Tolkien stories (which Dad loved and read to us often). Since then, I have often thought of my life as being part of my father’s legacy.

For most of his adult life, Mike Locke (dad) was fascinated with anything that had wires, circuits, and plugged into the wall. Especially computers. In 1983, he graduated from Armstrong State College and was Outstanding Computer Science student in his graduating class.

I remember one night when he was in college, he brought home a large, hard-plastic suitcase, which he proceeded to open and plug in. It had a keyboard, a monitor, and something that attached to our telephone–this was in 1983! I got to watch as we connected to what would eventually become the internet (at that point he was dialing into the college system, which was networked mostly to other universities). What did father and son do next? Yep, we played a video game. It was a text based thing, that gave us the option to fight, run, or bargain whenever we ran into a monster. I was seven years old. Around that time, we bought a Commodore 64, and he taught me how to write simple programs in BASIC.

Later, when I was a teenager, I remember him generously volunteering his time and skills to write free programs and set up systems for schools, government organizations, friends, and family. In 1995, I designed my first website — when I showed it to him, he seemed less than impressed. But that’s just the way he was. Hard to impress a man who was 50 points shy of a perfect SAT score…back in 1967, when it was a relatively new, unstudied thing.

I remember a conversation we once had when I discovered (in the late 80s) that we were approaching the millennium. I asked him if I would live to see it (even back then, I was lousy at math). When he said I would, I asked if he would live to see it, too. He said, “I certainly hope so; I’m planning on it.” He missed it by just two years.

It’s no surprise to me that almost a decade later, I spend so much time in front of a computer screen. Sometimes I have an opportunity to help a school, or a church, or a friend to design a blog, a wiki, a logo, or a website. Occasionally, I get an opportunity to participate in building an online community here or there. I don’t have my Dad’s genius for circuitry and code, but I’ve put together some things I’m proud of. I always do it for free, for good causes, and to share with everyone. (That’s part of why the open source movement appeals to me.) It’s what I think he would have done. And I think he’d be proud of what I do.

At Jesus’ last dinner with his disciples, he passed the wine around the table and said, “as often as you drink this, do so in remembrance of me.” I think it’s something kind of like that.

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