I recently re-discovered a file from my “elementary school portfolio.” It had an essay entitled “My Dad, My Hero.” It was a fairly simplistic essay with little insight beyond my three reasons and a few sentences worth of explanation. Since I’d like to believe that my writing abilities have improved since then and my perspective expanded, I thought with Father’s Day here it was a good time to revisit the topic.

My dad is not a perfect man. I think perhaps one of the hardest things about growing up is realizing that your parents are not as infallible as you once believed they were. With perfect as an impossible standard, I think one of the most “heroic” things I’ve seen my dad do is own up to his mistakes. I’d imagine that there is a lot of pressure that goes into being a father and confessing to mistakes may not help the ideal image a father wants to maintain, but I think it’s important. There’s a strength in vulnerability and in learning from mistakes. Honesty is strength, and with honesty comes stronger relationships and trust.

The next thing I’ve grown to admire about my father is his humility. In elementary school when I wrote my essay, I admired that he was a doctor and that he could help save lives. My dad wasn’t just my hero, he was a hero to others. While I am still inspired by his dedication to a career that helps others, I’ve come to realize the significance in the little gestures as well. See, my dad doesn’t just help people while he’s at work. He doesn’t just provide assistance when there’s a paycheck attached to it. Recently, a little girl wrecked her bike in front of our house and the neighbor asked me if my dad could come out and help. After doing everything he could do medically, his next step wasn’t to go back inside, it wasn’t to wait for gratitude or praise, instead, out of everyone in the group, he was the one who thought to offer to walk the little girl’s bike home. This simple act of thoughtfulness and kindness was a reminder to me that helping isn’t just about what you know, it’s about what you can do.

My dad inspires greatness. He has a commitment to refusing to settle. He works to be the best at everything that he does. I’ve watched him prove time and time again that learning doesn’t stop after you graduate college. Even though he has worked in his field for over 20 years, it’s not uncommon to see him studying or practicing with his continuing education. He values learning in a way that encourages me to make the most of every situation. Whether or not a class feels fulfilling, there is something to be gained from it and a lesson to learn. Learning shouldn’t stop just because you’ve graduated. My dad is a smart man and if he doesn’t know everything it reminds me that I certainly don’t.

Thank you dad for being a teacher and an inspiration. Thank you for believing in me and for encouraging me to be the person that I want to be, even when it’s not exactly what you had in mind for me. Thank you for loving me even when I make mistakes. Thanks dad for being you.