I learned to read numbers at 4 years old, sitting with my Dad reading the box scores from baseball games played the day before. It was 1962, a time when our country was in a much different place. Now, 27 years later, our 44th President, Barack Obama, is very different from the 43 Presidents before him.
As I watched the Inauguration today from my home with my Wife and Son, I kept thinking about my Dad. Why? Like our 44th President, my Dad is biracial––only he's half Mexican, half Irish. We've had a few conversations over the years about growing up in the '40's, '50's and '60's with a skin color that didn't match our last name. Once, he talked about trying to figure out if he was Mexican or White. To me, he was just Dad. But I could see the pride in his heritage––on both sides of his ancestry. He would talk about walking into a room with my Mother––who has the whitest skin of anyone I've ever known––and immediately feeling hate, ignorance and prejudice because he wasn't with "one of his kind." Little did people know that only made him more focused, more proud and more energized to prove to people that the color of your skin is only that––a color.
My Dad and I have talked more about politics before, during and after this historic election. We couldn't have more different views. But that's OK. More than OK, in fact. Because my Father also taught me––along with my Grandma Marie, Southern born and the most loving person I've ever known besides my Wife––that differences are what makes the world go 'round. It makes us smarter. Stronger. Wiser. Human. More humble. Americans.
I'm forever grateful that I have survived cancer so that I could witness the election of a person who doesn't fit the mold, the norm and the status quo. I used to love the number 44 because of my boyhood idol, Jerry West. He wore 44. He was tough. He was relentless. He was humble. But now I have another 44 to look up to and hope he delivers in the clutch, as Mr. Clutch himself did on the basketball court. This 44 also play hoops. A new idol, for today's 4 year olds to follow.
Let the fascination begin.