My Dad's Name? Superman


I remember exactly when it happened. I was sitting in my summer dorm room doing my reading for class that night when my cell phone rang. My nonchalant method of picking it up proved how incredibly unprepared I was for the news that would change my life forever.

My textbook lay unread on my bed alongside my unfinished homework for the next morning. I was too absorbed with the words I had just heard to focus on anything else. My mother’s soft and hesitant voice echoed in my head: Dad needs cardiac surgery.

Two days earlier, my mother had explained that they were going to be going to Mayo for their annual check-up, but I doubted that a check-up would reveal anything major. I brushed off my father’s recent reoccurring dizziness as mere symptoms of aging. The results of the check-up were shocking. His condition was so serious that a heart attack could have occurred at virtually any moment. 

Perhaps the news stunned me so because my whole life I had na├»vely considered my father invincible. He could scare away monsters from underneath my bed and battle through difficulties as if they were never there. He could cure cancer and work twelve-hour shifts without signs of weariness. Even at the age of sixteen, I felt my dad would be there forever. 

And then the truth rushed at me like an unstoppable avalanche. Thanks to some amazing doctors, my dad, though requiring a definite change in lifestyle, turned out fine. The experience, though, made me think quite a bit about heroes. As long as I could remember, I had strived to be my father in each and every way. His life was a true rags-to-riches story, from the slums of a third-world country to a successful physician. This, it seems, may have been why I viewed my father as invincible. When we look up to someone enough to want to be that someone, we completely ignore their flaws; we refuse to believe our Superman has a kryptonite. After all, why would we want to be someone with flaws?

So, what do we do? Do we acknowledge our hero’s flaws? Should we analyze our heroes to determine what makes them fall? To this, I say absolutely not. We NEED mentors to be successful. It is incredibly reassuring to know that someone has accomplished what we aim to accomplish. Knowing something is possible gives us hope, reassurance. Flaws, once acknowledged, are hard to ignore. After we realize someone is flawed, the flaw seems amplified: it’s all we can think about. If we refuse to acknowledge our heroes’ flaws, we gain perseverance. We gain hope. Ever seen how determined a child is to be Spiderman or Batman? It’s because they see no flaws, only success. I felt the same with my father. I neglected his slightly opinionated nature and his obsession with his work simply because that is not the type of person I wanted to be when I grew up.

So, while we know deep down that everyone is mortal, the misconceived perceptions of invincibility and perfection help us succeed. Submit to your childish misconceptions every once in a while; they may be just what you need.

Watch out, Clark Kent, my dad’s got you beat. And so do seemingly invincible heroes everywhere.



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