This week in Young, Hungry & Committed, Virtual Office New York lawyer Vivian Sobers celebrates the life of her grandfather, “Nono”, a man who played a pivotal role in becoming who she is today.
This past Summer, in the middle of my divorce drama, my grandfather passed away. “Nono,” as we called him, spent his life in Venezuela as an engineer and teacher after he left the military.
Nono was always the quiet one in a family full of chatty women. He was the one person in my family that I always sought out when I was younger.
Like him, I wasn’t exactly loud or rambunctious: I found refuge in reading books and Shakespeare’s plays. And I found a safe place in speaking with Nono about the books I had read.
That was our own special connection. Any time I visited him in Venezuela, we would chat about books for hours. He always found a way to surprise me by seeing straight through to the heart of a book and by posing poignant questions.
Nono gave me a wonderfully different lens with which to view the philosophy of life.
It was with those thought provoking questions that he taught me to never take things at face value and to always keep asking questions.
In the last days of his life, I began turning the questions back on him. He had always been fascinated by my career trajectory and how I was coping as a woman in New York City. “Wow,” he would say, “that’s tremendous.”
In one of those conversations, I was explaining to him how my career was progressing, and also how my marriage had recently ended. As I spoke, he got a distant look in his eyes and began reminiscing about his own career.
He told me of how he felt that he had sacrificed his chance at climbing the corporate ladder because his family needed him to be in the capital, Caracas. He became wistful as he thought of what could have been had he put his career first.
As our conversation continued, his overall demeanor took on a note of regret. He spoke about my mother (one of his four children), and how he was too busy, even without aggressively pursuing his career, to truly pay attention to her. As a result, he didn’t have an answer when I asked him about what my mother was like as a teenager.
Much like the conversations we would have when I was younger, I walked away without a straight answer. Instead, as I thought about what was said, I began asking myself more questions.
It certainly seems like he carried some regrets, but his life was not without happiness. At the end of it all, he was surrounded by a large family including the newest generation of great-great grandchildren.
So, here I am, still asking myself questions and thinking about Nono.
What matters in my life?
Right now, it’s my career. I’ve just blown up my marriage, so I’m not too sure if kids are in my future. Do I want to miss out on the love of my very own large family?
I’m not even close to having the answers. But, just like Nono would have wanted, I’m still asking questions.
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Vivian Sobers is a commercial litigator pursuing a solo law practice right out of law school. She is a client in Law Firm Suites’ Virtual Office Program. Vivian’s weekly blog series “Young, Hungry and Committed” documents the trials and tribulations of a young attorney navigating her way through the challenging world of self-employed legal practice.