Each Monday for the past several weeks, I have been publishing one section of the biography on my father I created in collaboration with over 30 contributing writers. Each story in each section brings a unique perspective about my father Calvin Jay Miller. Last week I shared the final part of the writing project that focused on my father’s life living back in the United States. Today marks the conclusion of the entire “secret biography” project on my father. My hope is that by sharing this biography that countless other people have gained more insight into the man that my siblings and I are proud to call dad. He has inspired me to be my best self, and I look forward to all the stories yet to come. Enjoy!
A LIFE IN STORIES
Part 1: Ohio (September 12, 1953 – September 1971) (here)
Part 2: Goshen College (September 1971 – June 1973) (here)
Part 3: Bolivia (September 1973 – September 1976) (here)
Part 4: Ohio State (September 1976 – December 1979) (here)
Part 5: Bolivia Redux (January 1980 – July 1992) (here)
Part 6: Pennsylvania (July 1992 – December 1997) (here)
Part 7: Georgia (December 1997 – July 2004) (here)
Part 8: Italy (July 2004 – December 2015) (here)
Part 9: Virginia (December 2015 – Present) (here)
By Michael Miller
The older I get, the more I realize that I am I quite like my father. Not simply because we are the exact same size and build, not to mention I’ve been told I have the same “wiggle” when we walk, but because of how he attacks life. I have never known my father to be complacent, satisfied with the status quo or unoriginal, since he is not those things. He craves new experiences, relishes interacting with new people and absorbing everything that life has to offer. He is not afraid to work hard, his work ethic is impossible to match (so I don’t!), and if he needs to make a fool of himself to get a point across or make a connection, he won’t shy away, as evidenced by the image below of him dancing (?) with locals during a recent consulting trip to Asia.
I cannot say it any better than I already have: he attacks life with everything he has. All of his successes are either extremely well earned, or a direct blessing from a God, whom my father puts first in all of his decision-making.
Many would assume that my father is a massive extrovert, and while that is mostly true, it is by no means the whole truth. As anyone who truly knows him well will say, “Cal” is also a quiet soul, who is pensive, thoughtful and surprisingly sensitive. His introverted side allows him to sit back and observe, which in turn affords him the unique ability to see things in a different way while making connections that others simply would never think to connect. And, knowing myself to be oh so similar, I bet he doesn’t even truly think of himself as innovative, since his unique ideas are for him just the normal and obvious answer or approach. My father’s viewpoint is shaped by his tremendous number of vast experiences and interactions, and he and the world around him are better for it.
I am not trying to say that my father is a perfect person; his stubbornness is downright legendary, he can be quite impatient to the point of being pushy, he is the “puniest” person there ever was and he is impossibly impulsive. If you want proof of the impulsiveness, look at the picture below of my father holding a monkey. What makes this impulsive is this was my family’s pet monkey, named Mickey, who was purchased by my father and me for 5 Bolivianos on impulse upon seeing him and then brought home. I remember not my mother’s feelings on the matter, but Mickey did become a beloved member of our family.
What makes my father so special is that he truly is his own person who knows who he is and what he wants, a truth that has been true since he was very young. The ability to know who you really are is an admirable trait, and it is one that has absolutely been passed down to me and my siblings. Having the courage to be yourself and have the courage of your convictions is no easy thing, and yet he has always made it look effortless. And by having such a strong sense of self, he has never shied away from offering his expertise freely and openly to anyone who needs it, be it a colleague, family member or stranger. He even co-authored a book, Agricultural Value Chain Finance: Tools and Lessons, with FAO colleague Linda M. Jones, which has become essential reading for anyone in the field. For my father, knowledge sharing and friendliness are just a way of life.
Ultimately I, Michael Jay Miller, am a surprisingly close, yet still radically different, replica of my father, Calvin Jay Miller, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. And more than anything, I’m excited to share with others the incredibly deep and meaningful life that is my fathers.
First and foremost, this biography would not have been possible without the tremendous inspiration provided by the man this book is dedicated to, my father.
I also owe a huge debt of gratitude for the incredible guidance and support provided by my mother Jan Miller on this project. She was vital in helping me bring my simple idea of creating this biography on my father to life, and as a secret from him no less. That is correct, this biography is first and foremost a gift for my father and he neither knew about it, nor had a direct hand in it, aside from providing the inspiration.
Finally, I would like to thank all of the incredible writers who contributed amazing and insightful personal firsthand stories on or about my father. This work is only made possible by your willingness to share your stories and memories and I couldn’t be more grateful. Thank you!