My Dad, My SuperHero-By Susan Alexander

First Prize Story (in Inspirational Storytelling Contest)


"The Stuff that Superheroes are Made of"

Susan Alexander, 
Founder, Write Concept, Bangalore

Without a doubt, my real-life Superhero would be my dad who passed away some months ago.

I always remember the heartfelt advice he would give us as children, “Aim for the stars so that you will at least fall on the rooftop” and; “Everyone is created equal. Never discriminate based on a person’s appearance, clothing, or income.”

The good thing is that dad’s actions were louder than words. He always wanted to ensure that his children had a good chance to excel in different ways. Though education was important to him, he would always say, “Education alone is not enough; you have to excel in some sport too.” When swimming became a passion for me, he would wake up at 4 a.m. in the morning so that he could teach me mathematics for half an hour before my swimming lessons began at 5 a.m.

Another incident I remember is that an elderly neighbour with whom we had few interactions once came to our house and asked dad if he could borrow my mother’s Swiss watch for a day. He wanted it for his daughter who was getting married. The request took everyone at home by surprise, especially my mother. Dad however, calmly asked her to bring out the watch and handed it over to him. When my mother voiced a protest after the visitor left, he said, “I will buy you another one if he does not bring it back.” The watch was returned in two days instead of one, but there was absolutely no reaction from dad when it did not turn up as expected.

Dad knew how important it was for families to enjoy everyday activities and have fun. He would often come back from work and take us to libraries and for long walks by the beach. With the families of his friends we would often take long car trips to places of historic interest, scenic beauty, and to wildlife sanctuaries. This gave the family the chance to see ancient sculptures, spectacular waterfalls, and herds of wild buffalo, deer, and elephant. We had the pleasure of swimming in shallow bays with snorkels and masks and got to see hundreds of coloured fish dash by in groups.

While it may seem that everything in his life was a bed of roses, there were down times. Through it all, dad looked challenges in the eye without flinching. When we were concerned about a surgery he was to have, he comforted us with the words, “People have to face unpleasant situations with courage.”

Being a bank officer by profession, dad approached everything in life in a methodical and systematic fashion. He always stressed the need for integrity and transparency in all dealings. From the time I was ten, I was told how important it was to file taxes promptly. Years later, when I began to work and was sent on official trips he would always say, “Be careful when you fill in that expense report, it should only contain official expenses.”

After he retired, dad and mum often travelled to where each of us children had settled. Dad loved children and was delighted to spend time with his grandchildren who in turn adored him. As a grandfather, he did his best to understand and encourage the talents and aspirations of each grandchild.

Since dad would often tell me anecdotes of his younger days and more recent experiences, I told him it would be great if he could write his memoirs. This led to dad sending me emails recounting various experiences two or three times a week. He wanted me to compile the contents of the emails into a single document. The writing process led to several editorial sessions whenever I visited home. Dad would mark the changes in a printed draft and strike each change off meticulously after it was incorporated. The last email I received from him was on the day he died. It focused on how we should close out the memoirs and distribute them to the family. I remember reading the email and laughing at a particularly funny observation he had made.

Dad could sum up situations and give sound practical advice. He went out of his way to help people and was always happy for the success of others. When I think of dadI am reminded of the wonderful qualities he exhibited—integrity, humour, kindness, and wisdom.

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AL Services-The Story

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