We all want a hero, someone with super powers to sweep in and save the day. The entertainment industry is well aware of the fact based on the number of Spiderman, Superman, and Iron Man movies, just to name a few. But consider the everyday heroes. Sure, we have police officers, firefighters, soldiers, teachers, etc. They are all heroes in my book and deserve all the respect and praise we paltry folk can muster. Still, they are not the only heroes discreetly aiding us in the challenges of life. There is the friend who knows exactly when to call and what to say to bring us out of a funk. There is the family member offering encouragement and pushing us to chase our dreams. There is even the fast food worker or retail clerk who battles a disgruntled customer and then still turns to the next person in line with a smile. Yes, the ability to let negative remarks roll off of you and remain friendly and positive is surely a super power. There are countless more, but if I took the time to list them, then this blog might never end.
In my life, I have been impacted by heroes of all kinds, but one stands out more than all the others. He is the “Man of Steel” for he certainly has steel nerves. Nothing seems to shake him and he has always been my rock, my constant in life. What makes him even more special is that he did not have to be such a huge part of my life, and yet he chose to be my “Father”. When I was two or three years old, his daughter Jen became my best friend and the rest, as they say, is history. He might not have been the fun dad who played with and became one of the kids, but I was drawn to his calm and logical demeanor. I must have known from an early age how important those traits would be later on in my life. He has certainly rescued me on more than one occasion and he never seems to break a sweat.
To demonstrate just how calm he is in stressful situations, I would like to tell you about my first driving lesson. Yes, the dreaded driving lesson is something most parents will try to avoid. Really, how many people willingly entrust their lives to a sixteen year old while trapped in the confines of a hunk of metal? Why anyone would volunteer to teach a teenager to drive is beyond me. More than that, why would you use your brand new sports car for the driving lesson? That defies logic, yet that is exactly what my “Father” did. He must have had a rare lapse of judgement. I can only hope he has fully recovered.
As I got behind the wheel of his Toyota Supra, he got into the front passenger seat and Jen hopped into the back (sitting in the middle for a good view of the road). We all buckled our seatbelts, and I, at least, took a deep breath before starting the engine. With nervous anticipation, I placed my foot on the gas and we started slowly down the street. I don’t remember the specific route we took; perhaps I blocked it out. What I do remember is Father happily telling me to go faster. It was evening and the roads were clear, so I guess he figured there was no harm in letting me really test out the car. I remember asking if he was sure before putting more pressure on the gas. It was exhilarating. I was driving, and even better, I was driving this beautiful sports car. I was getting more comfortable, but I was apparently still cautious when making turns. Here is where the drama unfolds. Father told me, “Don’t slow down when you make your turns”. Barely seconds later, he told me to make a right turn at the next corner. Wanting to please him, I maintained my speed and made the turn. As I did so, Jen started screaming from the back seat. Her life had seemingly passed in front of her eyes as she noticed the car coming towards us. She hollered at me, “Didn’t you see the stop sign?” to which I replied, “No.” All I knew was I had followed directions: Father told me not to slow when making my turns and then he told me to turn. There was never any mention of a stop sign. When Jen finished screaming and I ceased my explanation, Father calmly looked at me and said, “You are so lucky. There is normally a cop sitting there.” That was his only reaction. He must have ice in his veins.
To this day, I have to admit breaking into a smile every time I make a right-hand turn. I do try my best to adhere to the stop signs though.