Living With a Super Hero

June 15, 2015  - by 

I thought my dad was Superman when I was a little girl. I was convinced after I peeked into the garage just as he bent a pole in half (it was light-weight aluminum but it looked like solid steel to me). He didn’t see me spying, so in good Lois Lane style, I kept the information to myself. Sometimes it was hard not to tell anyone that I lived with a superhero.

In my mind, dad was the strongest, smartest, and best man that ever lived. He traveled a lot—to save the world from the bad guys, I supposed. But I never truly felt safe until he was home; everything was better when he was there.

He could have been a different kind of parent–his own childhood was heart-breaking. His mother was gentle but sickly and his dad was a “mean drunk” who spent the family’s earnings on liquor and gambling. My mother’s father was also crippled by alcoholism and never achieved his potential, while her mother, who loved her family, had impossibly high expectations and was caught up in society.

When my parents met, they had scars of self doubt in common. But when they fell in love as performers in a community opera, they saw a brighter future. Before they married, they vowed that their children would never suffer as they had. They agreed to put their own family first and create a peaceful home filled with love and security. And they succeeded!

As a child I never saw them fight or even disagree. We were the center of their world—they sacrificed everything they had—emotionally, spiritually and physically—for us. In fact, on my third birthday I asked where my new TV set was. Dad couldn’t bear to think I might be disappointed so he bought our first set that day.

Super Hero Father 2 Jan Mayer
He was like that, giving what he could whenever he could. But he wasn’t a push-over. He taught us to be obedient, respectful, kind and to tell each other “I love you,” every day. He often left notes on the fridge or in our lunch bags to let us know he was thinking of us.

He was quick to praise, complimenting mom’s cooking after his first bite and telling us we looked nice before we left home. Even on his deathbed, he tried to say “thank you” to helpers. He never failed to tell me he appreciated me—but I was the one who was blessed to be with him.

He paid attention to our opinions. Once we complained that family night was boring. At the next gathering, he entered the room spinning, leaping and doing ballet to Swan Lake. We were delighted but bewildered. He laughingly said he didn’t want us to be bored so he spiced things up.

Dad taught by example. He held many positions in our church but said that the most important was as patriarch of our family. He taught us an eternal perspective. It was easy to trust in Heavenly Father because of our earthly father. Dad’s love for us was constant. When we were foolish, he was forgiving– comforting and encouraging us. He wanted the best for us, but he let us find our own way. I believed because I could see the nature of God in him.

When I was about nine, I put aside my childish thoughts of dad as a superhero. Eventually though, I realized I hadn’t been wrong after all.

He may not have leapt buildings with a single bound, but in everything that mattered, my dad really was Superman.

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