Peter Schjeldahl and Ada Calhoun

About two years ago, I posted about Ada Calhoun and one of her books here. At the time, I did not know that she was the daughter of Peter Schjeldahl, the art critic and essayist. He wrote a phenomenal essay about his cancer diagnosis three years ago and died last week. Only a month ago, I read Calhoun’s latest, Also a Poet, which was, in large part, a tribute to her father and their less-than-perfect relationship. She writes about the struggles of wishing you had had parents that were, for example, more attuned to you, prouder of you, but then also understanding this: you get what you get and good things can come from difficult bonds or even bonds that do not feel strong. Noteworthy for me that Schjeldahl was Norwegian-American. I recognized the unwillingness to praise one’s child, a trait my mother certainly demonstrated. I also recognized the frustration of having parents that seemed perfect (or close to it) to the outside world, while being only human at home. Rest in peace to Schjeldahl and may his daughter continue to write.