College Essay: Colin Ray to Attend the University of Cincinnati


My dad lives 2,000 miles away, in Seattle, Washington. You see, he took a job at Starbucks and has been living across the country for the past two years. It’s weird to live so far away from your father.  The man that was there right by your side for the first 16 years of your life…gone. It takes a toll on the mind to be separated from such an important person for so long. It’s taxing on a relationship to talk to someone only through the phone.

“If you and your mother cannot get along for the next couple weeks, I’m going to have to bring both of you back out to Seattle!” my dad yelled over the phone.

“It’s not my fault!” I yelled in reply.

“I don’t care whose fault it is. If you guys can’t make it work then I’ll have no choice,” my dad responded.

My once tightly knit family was beginning to unravel. We only saw each other during the holidays. These visits were filled with bickering, and traditions that once united us were tearing us apart. Something needed to change for us before battle lines were drawn.

It came in the form of spinal surgery. My spine. Ironically, it took my immobilization to bring us together, to move forward. My dad took the four-hour flight from Seattle to Cincinnati. He left his job for a whole month to baby his seventeen-year-old son. It’s safe to assume he didn’t expect to do this ever again, but there we were.

I remember very little from my time in the hospital, but one thing was for sure: my dad sat by my side through the whole thing. Through my late-night complaining because of back pain and the hours of being scared, literally shitless, because I couldn’t go to the bathroom, he never complained or asked for my mom to watch over me. After the surgery, he helped me take my first steps after surgery, he helped me learn to walk up and down stairs again, and he even sat through the endless number of Disney movies I watched. My favorite? Luca! Somehow this little Italian fish boy had made something click in my mind, and it was all I wanted to watch. We were never closer, and I mean literally. I never imagined that my dad would have to wipe me again and I bet he thought the same thing. Together we had to swallow our dignity. I had turned back into a giant baby, but we worked through it together.

This experience showed me that my dad was the glue that held our family together. Without his humor, the tension in the air was thick. Without his out-of-touch remarks and funny one-liners, silence would ring through the house. He kept everyone calm, uniting our clashing personalities.

Ironically, I live 2,000 miles away from my father, but this is the closest we have ever been. Everyone looks forward to our reconvening during the holiday season. Although it took so much to bring us all back together, our relationship is as strong as the bar in my spine.