Some people have heroes who are larger than life. Characters on television (or the actors who play them), best-selling authors, record-smashing Olympic medalists. Their antics and their triumphs captivate audiences around the globe. Perhaps I am simplistic in the fact that my heroes are usually smaller. While I can be inspired by the high-flying oratory of great speakers or the dramatic careers of admirable peace-makers, I find I most identify with-- and, indeed, idolize-- those who are closest to my heart. That is why, when I think of who I consider my hero, it is my father, Michael Lachtrup, who stands out.
|My father, wearing his hospital coat|
I have always been impressed by people who are willing to work hard and to go after what they want. My father is one of those people. As an optometrist, he put himself through both college and medical school, determined to make a career for himself even when it seemed difficult. Now, he has had the opportunity to work for one the the finest hospitals in the country. Oftentimes his work can be very taxing-- just yesterday he recalled his secretary beginning his day by informing him that he had twenty-two appointments already booked. These appointments were ultimately interspersed by several emergency cases. Yet, I believe he derives a great amount of satisfaction from his work. The time when he is most despondent is not when he is at peak business, but after a slow day with only a handful of patients. During the fourteen years I have known him, I have always been impressed by his work ethic and his devotion to what he does. His determination, which is less to succeed than it is to perform whatever task he is given thoroughly and well, is a model I strive to emulate.
My father may be at his worst when business is slow, but I believe he is probably happiest perched atop a bicycle, whizzing down a narrow bike path with nothing but the trees and the (boiling) sun at his back. My father has always been health-conscious, but more than that he enjoys the outdoors and the beauty of combining nature and exercise. He is far more at home dipping a canoe paddle into the cool waters of a glassy stream than he has ever been in an office. From this he has taught me both to love and revere nature. There is very little in this world more beautiful than the sky on a crisp autumn day, or the look of bare tree branches against a winter sky. My father has helped me appreciate this magnificence. When he sees something that strikes him, his face breaks into a smile and he points, jabbing the air with his finger in excitement. Look! Would you look at that!
|Whizzing away on his bike|
More than anything, my father has taught me how to love: how to love what you do, where you are, and what is around you. It is a rare gift to be able to stand back and simply appreciate what life has given to you-- one's family and friends, the books one enjoys, even the leaves on the trees. He is more than a perpetual optimist-- he is a perpetual grateful recipient, be the gift that of a cloudless ninety-degree day or the serenity he derives from cooking a perfect meal. It is not a blindness to the bad so much as an acute vision for what is good.
I have always been buoyed by the assurance that my father loves me. He has never been shy to tell me that he cares about me and that he always will. Yet, he also demonstrates this through action every day. His thoughtfulness is what I am reminded of when I sit down to dinner and he has carefully prepared my asparagus without butter, just as I like it. When I am ranting about something that frustrates me, he is attentive. He has built his life around the care of others-- as a doctor, a husband, and as a devoted father. In doing this, he is able to assure me that there is always goodness in the world, even if occasionally it seems there is very little. As an eye doctor, my father deals with the concept of sight for his work. It is appropriate, then, that it was also he who taught me to see the wonders of what is around me.
|Leaves in the fall|