My father is my hero. Truth is that I can’t tell you a heart-wrenching story of inspiration about my father. I can’t tell you that he’s rescued someone from the jaws of death. Or, that he’s helped underprivileged children overcome tremendous odds against them.
What I can tell you about my father, though, is that he is a man of strong conviction. He is a man that never accepts defeat. He is a man that will rise to a challenge. He is a man that always thinks of his family first – my mother/his wife, his children (me included), his siblings, his nieces and nephews, his cousins…all of them.
My father was brought to this country by his family when he was 7. He came from a small village in the Azores. He lost his father at a very young age. He was the youngest of 4 children, but he grew to be a leader of them all. A stalwart.
He grew up in New Bedford and from all that I know he began working to earn money for his family at a very young age.
However, his circumstances never stopped him from succeeding. He was the first of his family to get himself into college (New Bedford Institute of Tech). Like many people in that time he and my mother married at an early age. He worked for someone for a little while and then started his own engineering business. He never worked for anyone after that. He survived through the highs and the lows. He raised a family of 3 kids. He built the house in which we all grew up with his own hands. He became a successful Moderator of our Town Meeting for 20 years.
He became well known and respected by so many in our community. Even those who disagreed with him had to admit that they respected him.
He put his 3 children through college and me through law school. We never struggled with poverty or neglect because he always worked for our survival and happiness.
Looking back at everything that he did, I learned so much from him – things that I could never learn in school. He taught me the value of education. He taught me the value of working hard. He taught me the value of setting goals and always trying to achieve them. He taught me the value of never giving up, while at the same time teaching me the worth of strategically retreating when the circumstances called for it. He taught me how to be a father, a friend, a kind person.
For the 46 years of my life I’ve watched him. Like most kids and teenagers, in my early years, I never appreciated him or what he did. But, as I’ve grown older I’ve learned wisdom from him and discovered that he was my best teacher.
My father is my hero. When I am on my deathbed, if I can say that I became only half the man that he was, then I know that I will have succeeded and lived a good life…thanks to him.