Since I believe in modeling for my students what I expect from them, I have written my own essay:
I believe in superheroes. Perhaps I should qualify that statement: I do not believe that they wear capes or masks or that they fly or save the world from apocalyptic scenarios (well, the last one could be debatable, depending upon what one defines as “apocalyptic”). However, I do believe that they walk among us, largely undetected, and that they know just what to do at just the right time.
I have come to believe in them through personal experience. In order to prove my point, I’m going to let you in on a secret. You see, my dad is, in fact, a superhero. While it has taken me a long time to discover this truth, I have no doubt that he has been one his whole life. I guess some people are just born that way.
When I was little, my dad could perform magic tricks. No, I don’t mean the kind where he pulled a quarter out from behind my ear or something (unimpressive) like that. He could take a mimosa flower bud and turn it into a Hawaiian dancer with a hula skirt. He could take my broken toys (which I always believed in using, not just admiring, even when they were fragile) and transform them from a million pieces into a complete, seamless whole. He could produce spare parts out of thin air and use them to save my favorite toys.
But his superhero qualities began long before I came into the picture. As a non-traditional student who eventually became a high school dropout, my dad beat extraordinary odds by finding a way through the army and into college. He and my uncle became the first people in their family to earn college degrees. While I could not even find a percentage for the number of people who drop out of high school and then get college diplomas, I did find all kinds of staggering statistics on the problems that befall high school dropouts. (For more information about high school dropouts and the phenomenally difficult pathway they face, an important topic for a later blog post, see this NY Times article, this PBS Frontline article, or these statistics.) My dad, the superhero, beat those extraordinary odds and went on to find success in college and in his career.
Nor did my father’s superhero qualities end when I grew up and moved out on my own. When my mom became sick and ultimately lost her fight with cancer, my father’s superhero strength and bravery stretched far enough to cover my whole family. And then he used his superhero adaptation ability to become both my mom and my dad. While he certainly did not replace my mother, he found a way to play both roles for me. His superhero adaptation transported him from his home in Georgia to visit my husband and me in far off places like Costa Rica and Japan. No task has ever been too difficult, no journey too far, no disappointment to great to stop my superhero dad.
I believe in superheroes, and I could not be luckier or prouder to have a dad that is one.
As he celebrates his 70th birthday, his powers continue to grow. Happy birthday, Dad!