When I was 25 years old, I received a letter from my father concerning some turmoil in which he was involved that also affected my life. It was the only letter I ever received from my father. It was heartfelt and very moving. When he reached the end, he signed it, “The Cantankerous Old Curmudgeon.” He was 66 years old at the time and not in very good health. As it happened, he died about a year-and-a-half later.
About 5 years ago when I was still working fulltime, I got into a series of testy conversations with someone who controlled the reimbursement of funds for a grant I had received. I felt that decisions were being made that not only disallowed some of our expenditures, but that did so through a misinterpretation of the initial funding agency’s regulations. Somewhere in the midst of the many discussions, I felt that I had taken on my father’s curmudgeonly approach to what was happening around my professional life and I continued that type of behavior with what I felt were a number of inequities in “the system.” I guess I felt that I had earned the right to use my father’s description of his own personality. And I continue to have those cantankerous moments.