Sometimes you find insight in the most unexpected places.
The following is an editor’s letter from the front of Men’s Fitness magazine. It eloquently and efficiently mirrors the feeling of my own feelings towards my father.
Editor’s Letter in June 2012 edition of Men’s Fitness by Michael De Medeiros:
Growing up, I never really had a hero not at the time, anyway. That’s not to say I didn’t appreciate larger-than-life characters. With examples all around us back then, how could I not? From Spider-Man to Rocky Balboa to Ric Flair to James Bond, I was frequently captivated by awe-inspiring feats and accomplishments. Add superstar athletes to that mix and it’s hard to fathom that everyone born in the late ’70s didn’t end up auditioning to be an action hero or star quarter-back. We were junkies of the surreal because that was our reality. And there’s no denying that watching these sports and entertainment icons helped shape me, on some level, into the man I’ve become. Still, if you’d asked me then if I had a hero, my answer would have been a resounding no.
It makes sense though: When you’re young, you don’t fully realize everything around you. You don’t see what’s really happening and how you’re changing and evolving.
Fast-forward a few years into adulthood, and everything changed abruptly when my father was diagnosed with cancer. Looking back, it’s obvious I went through some rather massive changes during that period of my life. This wasn’t because my father, on his deathbed, pulled me aside to impart something he hadn’t illuminated previously. It also wasn’t because life had dealt me a hard blow and I’d simply rounded a corner into responsibility. No, it was because I was watching the strongest man I’d ever known deal with the hardest thing in life-mortality. In witnessing that, I realized who my father really was and what he meant to me. He wasn’t my buddy, nor was he my teacher. He was, rather, the example of everything good, respectable, and admirable that I could ever aspire to be. He didn’t tell me: “Son, here’s how to be a man.” He lived it. He showed me everything I needed and I was soaking it all in-unaware that I was even doing it as I was growing up. When it came time for me to be an adult and take on something as devastating as losing him, I was prepared because he had shown me how strong I could be by virtue of how strong he was. I owe a lot to my father, and I will live my life trying to live up to his legacy.