Father’s Day Reflections
By Lora Zommer
As Father’s Day approached, we grasped the opportunity to reach out to our GCM and Silver Runner clients and their families and ask them to share memories relating to fatherhood. Their stories were touching, entertaining and, even more importantly, they enabled us to see our clients in ways we had not before.
As you can imagine, we tend to become acquainted with our clients later in their lives. By the time we get to know them, they have accumulated decades of life experiences, established distinguished careers, and accomplished much, both personally and professionally. While we appreciate and respect these aspects of our clients’ lives, we realized that seeing our clients through the eyes of their children and hearing them tell stories of raising their children offered us new and richer perspectives. In fact, it enabled us to see them in light-hearted, fun-filled ways and felt somewhat like flipping through a family photo album.
We thank our clients and their families for sharing their memories with us and for allowing us to share them here.
GCM client Martin Gutzwiller is a theoretical physicist whose work, particularly in the area of quantum chaos, has earned international recognition. In addition to receiving several prestigious awards, including the Dannie Heinemann prize of the American Physical Society and the Max-Planck Medal of the German Physical Society, he is the author of Chaos in Classical and Quantum Mechanics, a book that is familiar to many graduate students of physics and mathematics.
Although Dr. Gutzwiller spent most of his adult life in the United States, he was born and raised in Switzerland where Father’s Day is not recognized. So while Father’s Day celebrations were not a Gutzwiller family tradition, Dr. Gutzwiller’s daughters have many fond memories to share and their memories helped us to see Dr. Gutzwiller in a different light and to imagine him not just in a laboratory conducting important research, but in the great outdoors enjoying time with his family.
One of our favorite stories related to the very, and perhaps unintentionally, ambitious hikes that Dr. Gutzwiller often initiated. Dr. Gutzwiller and his wife loved hiking in the mountains, so they often took their daughters on family vacations in the Rockies or Grand Teton or Switzerland. Planned hikes usually followed the same general plan: on a typical day, the family would set out at 8:00 a.m. expecting to hike a round-trip distance of 10-12 miles accompanied by 3000 feet of elevation gain. By any standards, this constitutes a strenuous hike but the hikes usually ended somewhere scenic like a lake or mountain pass and so they were well worth the effort.
Once they reached their lovely destination the family would enjoy lunch and some well-deserved rest while anticipating the return hike. And it was during this time of rest and relaxation that the plan would change. Dr. Gutzwiller would first suggest that they go on a bit further or hike back via a different route. His suggestions always seemed like good ones and so the family hiked on . . . and on . . . and on . . . until their already strenuous 10–12 mile hike turned into an 18-22 mile hike with an additional 1000-or-so feet of elevation gain.
These hikes, which the girls affectionately referred to as “death marches” would conclude around 7:00 or 8:00 at night by which time they were sore, hobbling or limping and, and the same time, feeling very grateful for the beautiful mountain scenery they had experienced. Dr. Gutzwiller’s daughter Patricia remembers that, “It really became a signature thing to do with my dad – wondering what ridiculous outing we were going to do this time!”
One of our regular Silver Runner clients, Dr. Doug Layman, is the retired Staff Anesthesiologist of Presbyterian Hospital. He also served as Chief Medical Officer of the Day Surgical Unit, was the President of the NM State Medical Society and recipient of Presbyterian Hospital’s Chief of Medical Staff award. We know him as a stately, well-humored gentleman who calls upon the Silver Runner when he wants to meet friends for lunch, attend meetings with former colleagues or go to the gym to exercise.
Dr. Layman is also the father of six (yes, SIX!!!) children and when I asked him to share some fatherhood stories he had many to share. My favorite story described the time that he and his wife, Leila, took their six (yes, SIX!!!) children aged 6 to 16 on a trip to London. One evening, as they were leaving their hotel for dinner at a restaurant in Knightsbridge, they stopped to discuss their plans with their tour guide. When she learned that they planned to take a bus to the restaurant she assured them that the restaurant was not far at all, just on the other side of the park actually, and encouraged them to walk.
Well, about a third of the way through the park clouds gathered, thunder rumbled, rained poured down, lightning began to strike and the Layman family dashed through the park to the side of the street in hopes of hailing a cab. Knowing that London cabs were only allowed to carry a maximum of 5 passengers and realizing that they were several passengers over that limit, Dr. Layman responded as any good father would, which is to say that he told the smaller children to hide in the bushes.
He succeeded in hailing a cab and while the bigger kids piled in, the smaller ones came running out of the bushes and Dr. Layman began, in his words, “shoving kids into the cab”, all the while feeling very grateful that the kids were neither heavy nor broad. As Leila and their three daughters piled into the back seat with one son on the floor, the cab driver realized that they were going to exceed the 5 passenger limit (heck, there were five in the back seat alone!) and began to express his sincere concern. While offering him reassurance, and subtle bribery, Dr. Layman “grabbed the two other boys”, and stuck one on the console and the little one on the floor. Dr. Layman recalls that the little one cried out, “I feel like I’m being high-jacked” which, in all likelihood, is exactly how the taxi cab driver felt as well.
Dr. Layman convinced the taxi cab driver to deliver them to their destination which he did, albeit very cautiously, and then rewarded the driver with a generous tip. Following dinner, Dr. Layman, Leila and their six (yes, SIX!!!) children piled into the subway and made their way back to the hotel with little incident.