Saturday marked the 31st anniversary of my return from Salamanca, Spain - a date my dad used to remind me of each year. Not a remainder of failure as he saw it, of this I am certain. He was a believer in dates. Dates as markers of events, transitions, steps in a person's growth.
My sister found his calendar program on his PC after his death - a calendar program he wrote himself because the standard programs did not deliver the functionality he wished. It contained a wide variety of such dates - including the one marking the anniversary of his first day at work. His first job, shy young man that he was, placed him behind the pubic counter of the General Post Office in Dublin.
There is something about such a juxtaposition that carries within it the essence of the man. Later in his career, this still shy man became secretary of the Telephone Officers Union in Ireland - known to be a fierce negotiator.
Still later in his career he sat on telecommunications committees across Europe involved with standards definition. A cautious eater, Irish after all, he found himself in Finland, Denmark, Holland.
My return from Salamanca marked the end of my formal life as a Roman Catholic Religious - vows of poverty, chastity and obedience included.
Years later, when I lived just over the border from Geneva, my dad told me that he and my mother discovered I had grown up, become an adult when I arrived back from Spain. They spent a number of months "waiting for the other shoe to drop". It didn't - at least not until much later.
This "growing up", "becoming" has continued for many years. I had, in him, a good model on which to base my efforts.