When I was a child, it was easy to look at my dad and think that he was without a doubt the coolest, bravest, strongest and the most successful man in the world. I watched him cleared hectors of land within days with his crocodile branded machete (cutlass) alone, build a tree house storage facility for the end of season harvest, taught us, his children, about everything, from being successful on the farm to being successful in almost every aspects of our lives, and I pretend he was a superhero. My imagination equates him to the likes of the superheroes I’ve heard of and seen in science fictions – the Superman, Thor, Achilles, Arrow, etc who did everything with the greatest of ease.
As people, we are born to worship. We have the inborn desire to idolize something or someone. We find that which is good and make it into something great. This is the ultimate reason why we have superheroes in the first place. They have the outlook of the ordinary everyday people, but beneath this ordinary everyday people’s appearance, they are so different, and are set apart. As a child, I idolized my dad and ranked him up there with these super-humans because he was the closest thing I had to a superhuman.
But as I grew up into a man, I’ve learned that my dad was flawed. He became less and less superhuman, and more and more ordinary, perhaps, because I was fast coming up into a man of my own. I’ve seen that life is not just about a sequel of glorified success, but a journey of daily failures and accompanying victories. I’ve watched him work and hurt and toil and grow and be frustrated and he has made mistakes. We’ve pulled the pedestal out from beneath him and he fell down and became just another man, getting by as best as he could in this confused world.
Then something truly amazing happens, I’ve come to realize that my dad really is a superhero, and he has been all along; not as I’ve imagined as a child but in a way that makes him worthy of truly being a hero. A real dad, I realized, is one who spend hours of his day on the farm for every single day that I’ve lived., working on the same farm doing the same thing for decades, who wakes up at 2 am and goes into the woods to tap palm wine to raise money for his children’s school fees. A real dad is one who, for the sake of his family, break the bones in his fingers, had his skin and finger nails peeled off without even knowing.
A real dad, I’ve come to understand, is one who after a long day on the farm, still comes home to help in the kitchen. A real dad, you’ve taught me, is one who disciplines and mentors his children. He’s their best friend, and very importantly, pays the bills, and all of this not for his own sake but for the sake of those he loves. What makes my dad a superhero is not that he’s an extraordinary man, but because he’s an ordinary man who sacrifice his own glory and became a selfless man for our sake.
In this light, dad goes from being an ordinary man to being a superhuman because of love, the greatest power of all; the selfless kind of love that put us, his children and wife before himself. He sets aside his personal desire, dreams and glory so he could be the best dad and provide for us. Rather than worship you as a superhero, I aspire to be like you because you are normal and real, and ordinary, and because you are an ordinary man who has done extraordinary things.
There’s no other better and ordinary way to be grateful than to say THANK YOU DAD for setting aside your desire, dreams and personal glory for our sake. Thank you for teaching my brothers and me to love the ordinary man’s way.
You’re my Dad, my Superhero