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This story is perhaps the most infamous of the Hoolihan family lore. Mostly, because it was a horrendous, awful moment by a spoiled nineteen-year-old.

I can say that, because I was that spoiled, self -centered, nineteen-year-old.


My sister and I had joined my parents Seattle for another engineering convention. We had been there the whole week, and we weren’t flying out for another day. My father, free from the duties he had to fulfill as the Past-President of the sponsoring organization, was ready to relax.

The day dawned beautifully as we met my uncle at a Denny’s for a breakfast. We were going to plan out our adventure for the day.

I cannot remember my reason, except probably I didn’t want to sit in a car that for the entire day, I was very much against one particular plan that brought us to Vancouver, British Columbia.

Over a breakfast of planning the day, I sat and stewed. I would like to say I was silent, however, I know that is not my MO when I don’t want to do something. In fact, I am sure that I shared my opinion, as it was decided that we were going to Vancouver. When I challenged my wonderful, forgiving, loving father, I was far from polite.

I was told that “We would be going to Vancouver as this was a dictatorship.”

In insolence of nineteen-year-old youth, I looked directly at my father and said, with emphasis on the first syllable, “Yeah. A DIC-tatorship.”

I thought it was quite a clever play on words for one-quarter of a millisecond. Then I watched my father’s face turn a shade of purple that I had never seen on him before. I also prayed that I would never see again.

If we had not been in a Denny’s, I am sure I would have been rightly slapped.

Instead, he quietly paid the bill and we proceeded awkwardly to the rental car where we spent the day.

Driving around Washington State.


I had gotten my way, and I learned one of the hardest lessons of life. Never, ever think that you are so cute in your words that you forgot the feelings of those who hear them or even read them. I continue to try to ingrain this lesson in my own brain with my husband…who is now the most often recipient of my nasty side comments.

We returned home, and one-week later, my father and I drove a six hour silent ride to Milwaukee, where he dropped me off at my dorm.

Then left.

I cried. I had never felt so alone, and it wasn’t the Freshman experience, but the lack of knowledge that my father and I would ever repair our relationship.

I am by birth, one of the luckiest people on earth. My parents are loving and forgiving, and my father and I were able to mend our relationship, and I continue to cherish the bonding he and I have over his Electrical Engineering, that I know nothing about, but help him with.

And I still have never been to Vancouver.