Wednesday, October 31, 2018

My Father (RIP 1935-2018)

It brings me great sadness to note the death of the most devoted reader of this blog- my father Patrick Farrelly passed away last week surrounded by family and love.

My father has been the single most influential person in my life. A nurse and Olympic athlete (at the tender age of 41), my father pushed me to excel in my career aspirations. Outside of myself, he is the only other person to have read everything I ever published.

My father was the most physically active person I have ever known. He would walk or bike for hours a day, every day. Missing a workout was very rare and when it happened it was a very big deal to him.

Because of my father's training as a nurse and elite athlete, he and I would have lengthy debates about the role of lifestyle vs genetics in longevity and disease. He was a big believer in living a healthy lifestyle. He never smoked and never drank alcohol (only once did I see him drink half a glass of red wine after I did some arm twisting about its potential health benefits!). He was still very active till the end. But sadly the progression of cancer eventually won the day.

My father received his diagnosis just over a year ago. And as I processed this development I was inspired to write yet another paper on combating aging. Watching the cancer progress and weaken the person I had known my whole life as physically active and cognitively engaged was very hard. My father and I talked briefly about the argument I was developing in this new paper. And he was thrilled, as always, when I shared the news with him this past summer that it was accepted for publication. Sadly, and ironically, he wasn't able to read the paper in which I argue that senescence is one of the greatest threats to our liberty this century. It is the first paper of mine he won't have the opportunity to read, and yet it is a paper about the plight of him and billions more this century.

The paper will be forthcoming shortly here. This is the abstract:

In this article, I argue that senescence (biological aging) is one of the greatest threats to human freedom in the 21st century. The two most prominent conceptions of freedom are “negative” and “positive” liberty. The negative conception of liberty equates freedom with the absence of interference, whereas the positive conception equates freedom with having the capacity to be self-determining. By critically examining both the negative and positive conceptions of liberty, I make the case that senescence does violate our liberty, on both accounts of freedom. Also, if this is correct, then the development of an applied gerontological intervention ought to be considered an integral commitment of a society dedicated to freedom. An aging intervention holds great emancipatory potential for the world's aging populations.

I moved away from home over 22 years ago. And for over 20 years my father and I would talk on the phone at precisely 8:30pm on Tuesdays and Fridays. I already dearly miss those conversations, and his presence in my life. I would not be who I am today without the example he set for me as a human being and father.