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My Story - Adult Life (cont.)

While at Abbott, a miracle happened. I guess the stars aligned and I found myself in Guangzhou, China, adopting a baby girl just before my 45th birthday. To this day, it remains the single greatest thing I have ever done. After a divorce, a good collaborative one I might add, my ex allowed me to take our daughter all over the world, thus fulfilling one of my dreams.


Jennifer has been to about 25 countries with me. Those travels often involved couch surfing. Couch surfing refers to a social network of travelers who invite other travelers to stay in their home for free. It is a wonderful way of travelling if having a true local experience is what you seek. Surreptitiously, couch surfing with perfect strangers in foreign countries, including Russia, was my way of teaching my daughter to never fear stepping out of her comfort zone. I think I know something about that.

I was in my mid 50's and on a business trip to Boston when I suffered a heart attack. While I was still ambulatory, I felt miserable. A colleague told me to go to the hospital and got into a taxi with me. Following my trip to the ER to receive a stent, the doctor informed me just how fortunate I was. It turns out I had 100% blockage, which can be fatal. My blockage, thankfully, was in a part of the heart that could compensate. Some of the perspectives I have on life are certainly related to that experience.

In addition to working, traveling, raising a child, and cooking “world famous” jambalaya, I found time to get involved with volunteering. Specifically, I have organized my high school reunions, served for many years as a member and president

of the Libertyville Lions Club, and currently act as a wish granter for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Volunteering is tremendously rewarding. In fact, my first Make-A-Wish kid went viral in the media around the world (ABC, CBC, BBC, WGN, Chicago Sun Times, among others) because of the unusual nature of her wish. You can find out what I mean by reading this Good Morning America article or Googling "Azka's Podcasts."

So how does an introverted math geek and software engineer turn out to be a guy who plans on traveling around the continent to talk with strangers at the drop of a hat? A conundrum. I wonder how many people have these paradoxes in their lives. I can’t wait to find out.


As I write this in December of 2021, I am a proud empty nester of an International Business student at Carleton University in Ottawa. Following a highly successful entrepreneurship class in high school, she received national recognition as a member of one of the top five high school business teams in the United States. They even received television coverage at a shark tank event held for the five teams in Chicago. So, I guess choosing to study business in one of the most unique university programs in North America made sense.

Sadly, my daughter learned on December 20, 2021 that her third year student exchange at The University of Paris was canceled. COVID.


Thankfully, she completed year four in Paris.

PAGE 9 of 16

PAGE 10 of 16

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