Stephen Hawking, My parents, and Perseverance


Just this past weekend, they found a mass in the small intestine of my 70 year old father.  We're not sure if he has full-blown cancer yet.  He also suffered a stroke.  Even though we haven't always been the closest, it's still of course very difficult to see him in that state.  He has double vision and can't see well, his speech is slurred, and he can't get out of bed.  We don't know what will be next for him.  Small intestinal cancer is very challenging to treat and there's possible evidence that it has spread.  

Late last night, world renowned physicist Stephen Hawking passed away.  He of course lived several years after being diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease.  Hawking was a living inspiration to the disabled as he continued to make contributions to science even though he had such a challenge when living.  He had the ability to think at an extremely high level.  Hawking took questions like "Are we alone in the universe?" and "How old is the universe?" and could explain them so the average person could understand them.  I really enjoy this TED video of him back in 2006:

Today in both my Chemistry and Physics classes we watched the above video and talked about overarching questions about the universe and humanity.  I think too often in school we stay in our own little bubble and don't acknowledge that all of the sciences are related let alone also related to other subjects.  Some of my students were truly captivated when we talked about the expansion of the universe and possibilities for life elsewhere.  Isn't this the true purpose of school, to engage students and tap into their curiosity?

I know about that the type of computer that Hawking used because my mother had one.  She was diagnosed about 10 years ago with ALS and passed away within a couple of years.  My mother was an amazing person before she got ALS.  She was completely full of life and had an amazing sense of humor.  She taught me the piano and I love having the ability to teach others now.  

With my father in bad shape, it's possible I won't have any parents by the time I'm 40.  Yet, as I've been able to previously with hardships in my life, I know I'll be able to persevere.  If Stephen Hawking can live such a full life while not being able to move, I know that I can make the most of the opportunities I have too.  It's all too easy to wake up with a negative outlook on the day because of our personal circumstances or because we've had a streak of bad things happen to us.  Don't be that kind of educator and don't be that kind of a person.  We can all make a difference every day.