The dedication in my novel King of Ithaka reads:
For my parents, who said “Wonderful!” and not
“How do you expect to make a living at that?”
when I declared a major in classics
The luckiest thing that ever happened to me was being born in my particular family. It wasn’t picture-perfect, of course—what family is? My mother, now 88, has had MS since she was 33, and she and my father had their own set of issues and neuroses; my siblings and I had our rocky times—all the usual baggage.
My parents were supportive but realistic. Nobody ever told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be, thank goodness. Talk about giving someone false hopes! But they did back me in my interests. They encouraged my writing; they enjoyed hearing about my studies in classics; they enthusiastically sent me to study in Italy for a year. Both of them read my doctoral dissertation on a medieval Italian poet they had never heard of (and you haven’t either! Don’t believe me? Cecco Angiolieri. See?) and gave me thoughtful comments on it.
Now that I’ve been a college professor for 28 years (59 days left!) and I see the pressures my students operate under to forget that silly major in philosophy and study something “practical” like accounting, I thank whatever lucky star put me in a family where education was considered preparation for life, not for a particular career.