My heroes have always been, in no particular order: Batman, MacGyver, Captain Picard, and Sherlock Holmes. It took years to realize the common thread between all of them: they all were clever. Comic book nerds (like myself) know that Batman is considered the greatest detective that ever lived, and he’s not just a guy who could throw epic beat downs on the villains. Everything I am today is because of those heroes.
My dad was a very clever man, with a particular set of skills that to this day I’m not sure how he acquired. Electronics skills. Combat skills. Deduction skills. You name it. He taught me to be a software developer before I knew I wanted to be a developer. I still don’t know how he learned. He passed away nearly 20 years ago.
He always came up with some unique and clever way to solve a problem. Once, at a construction site, we finished building a cinder block wall, and had to clean up an entire warehouse. He hands me a broom and says “Start sweeping”. I begrudgingly start to sweep the floor and he disappears. After 10 minutes or so, I’ve barely made a dent in this warehouse sized mess when he comes blazing through a dock door, driving a forklift. On the lift is an empty pallet that he converted into a broom with some long rubber strips that he found just lying around. “Wow, dad that’s just like something MacGyver would build”.
He also always knew when I was up to no good. Always. Like Picard he allowed me to make my own choices. On the other hand, like Sherlock, he always knew when I made bad choices and never let me get away with them.
One of my earliest memories of anything was from when I was maybe 4 or 5 years old. Since my dad was a masonry worker, he would frequently have to leave for work early in the morning. Because of that, he would usually go to the local convenience store to fill the tank in his truck the night before, and I would sometimes tag along with him.
One night as he’s filling the tank and I’m playing with some toy in the back seat, he quickly opens the door and says, “Brian, get down and don’t look. If I take too long run inside and get Dale (he was the convenience store owner). I immediately listened to him, until he shut the door and turned around of course. Then I peeked out the car window to see what was going on.
There he is, charging toward a group of people, 3 men and two women. The men here harassing the women, and one of the men was getting violent with one of the women, and she was on the ground. My dad takes the man, turns him around, grabs him by the shirt and slams him against his truck, yelling something. The second man started to charge my dad, threw the first guy into the second guy which knocked him down, decked the first guy and turned toward the third. Jackass #3 wanted no part of this, and kept the truck between him and my dad. The 3 men then took off after that. My dad helped the woman up, talked a little and they left. I hid back down in the back seat and waited for him to get back in the car.
“Did you see any of that?”, my dad asked me, knowing full well I did. I just couldn’t contain myself. “That was so cool, dad! You were just like Batman!”
I used to think everything that I am today is because of those heroes. But that’s not true. Now I think they are my heroes because they are everything that I admire about my dad, and everything I am today is because of him.
Happy Fathers Day, dad. You are missed.