My Dad, Unflinching

By David Abel  |  Globe Staff  |  June 17, 2012
I was always convinced my father had no fear.
This was a man who took me for joyrides on a small motorcycle, without helmets. When we went sailing, his smile broadened the more the boat heeled, and the more my mom looked at him like she might throw him overboard.
He was the reason I took an interest in traveling.
When I was a child, he built a farm in the rural highlands of the Dominican Republic, one of a number of businesses he started. The first time he brought us there he drove up a dirt road that disappeared into the clouds and looped beside thousand-foot drops. He never flinched when trucks passed inches from us, barreling down in the opposite direction.
I still remember the way the pine trees scented the tropical breeze and the rich soil spurred everything from flowers to eggplants to bell peppers, all of which my dad would eventually grow.
Shortly before he died of cancer last year, I asked if anything scared him. At first, he didn't seem to understand the question. Then, with a mischievous gleam in his eyes that I hope I've inherited, he said: "Mom. If she threatens me, I listen."
David Abel can be reached at