September 11, 2005
A Week of Tributes
Amidst the shock of the last two weeks post-Katrina and today's sadness of honoring those who died in 9/11, this week brings an opportunity for me to honor three people who have been very important in my life: my father, Floyd Grotevant; my long-time research colleague, Ruth McRoy; and my dissertation co-advisor and mentor/colleague, Richard Weinberg.
My father celebrates his 85th birthday on September 20, but family and friends are gathering this weekend in Dallas to honor him. My sister and I have had a good time planning the event, if for no other reason than it's given us the chance to be in touch more frequently; communicate with cousins, aunts, and uncles we haven't seen in years; and reminisce as we go over old pictures and receive tributes from FOD (friends of dad). Here are 4 generations of Grotevant men.
The occasion has also given me the opportunity to reflect on the contributions my father has made to my life as an adult. Not in terms of possessions, but in terms of enduring qualities that I've seen him exemplify and that I strive to show in my life. Among them...
**optimism – having a positive outlook about the future and relishing each new day for what it will bring
**integrity – “doing the right thing” and expecting others to do so as well
**commitment – unswerving dedication to loved ones and ideals
**engagement – being active in the community and the world
**follow-through – keeping commitments and doing what you said you’d do
**pride – in a job well-done
I'm ready to party!
This week also marks a career transition for my long-time colleague Ruth McRoy. Ruth is retiring from "active duty" as a full time professor at UT, but will be serving for many years to come as a Research Professor based in California but continuing to conduct research, write, mentor, and provide leadership for the field. Ruth and I have been research partners for over 25 years, reaching back to her days as a graduate student and my days as a newbie assistant professor at UT Austin. Here we are celebrating our work together at a favorite Austin site, the Oasis Cantina on Lake Travis. (Sadly, the Oasis burned down last December after being struck by lightning; I hope it will rebuild soon!)
Together, we have written scores of grant applications, interviewed hundreds of adoptive families and birth parents, mentored countless students, celebrated many publications, and traveled all over the world to present our work. It's all been a great privilege and a great adventure to work with such a talented colleague. Ruth's academic talents combine in powerful ways with her commitment to her field (social work) and to all people ultimately served by her work. Words that come to mind include passion, energy, zeal, intelligence, savvy, and leadership.
This Thursday, Richard Weinberg will receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the School Psychology Program at the University of Minnesota. I can’t think of a better candidate for this recognition. By my reckoning, it was 30 years ago this fall that I was a student in Rich's School Psychology Assessment sequence. It was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences in my doctoral program. What I learned in that class about being a keen observer (among many other things) has stood me in good stead throughout my career. He has served as a significant role model from my first year as a graduate student to the present, as we are serving together as senior faculty members in our respective departments. Rich especially taught me how important it is to have faith in people (even when they aren't so confident in themselves), to provide opportunities, to give people room to grow, and to simultaneously and paradoxically be close and let go.
How lucky can I be -- to have three such amazing people in my life for so many years and to be able to honor them in the same week? (My only regret is that our geographical separation means that I will not be able to attend all three events.) The qualities that the three of them embody have been important touchstones in my adult life -- and they are qualities that I hope to pass on to the people whose lives I touch. My love, admiration, and appreciation go out to all three of you!