Sunday, October 23, 2011

Learning from my Dad

Last Thursday was one of the most special times I've shared with my family. My dad received a top award from his hospital called the Tate Mason Award after over 20 years of employment at Virginia Mason. My entire family, along with a few close friends and relatives from Michigan came to the event to surprise my dad after he accepted the award. It was incredible hearing about what my Dad had contributed to his work community, along with all the work he put into getting where he is today.

During the award presentation, the CEO of Virginia Mason quoted a part of a speech that my dad delivered years ago about why he loves being a surgeon. He quoted Reason #2: Patients Will Change Your Life:

"How many times have you treated a patient with a disabling or lethal disease? Despite pain, despite the prospect of mortality or severe disability, despite potential financial ruin, our patients routinely smile; they routinely exhibit a strength of spirit, mind, and body that transcends normal human behavior. Many times we see the anger. Many times we see the fear. Many times we see difficulty dealing with pain. However, when it is all said and done, what we are privileged to see on a daily basis is a strength of spirit that trivializes our daily worries. How can we, in good conscience, complain about anything in our daily life on the same day that a patient with a lethal cancer who is in extraordinary pain says “he doesn’t need any help”? When our patients thank us for all our work on their behalf, our response should be “No, thank you. You did all the work. I did the easy part. Thanks for the privilege of getting to know you.”

I loved hearing this part of my dad's speech because it reflects so much of who he is. My dad is a man of integrity who appreciates the small things in life. He always works hard at everything, and tries to see the big picture in all scenarios.

Ever since I was a little girl, I remember being asked the question: "Who is your hero?" Each time, I've thought for less than 5 seconds, and responded: "My Dad." Simply put, my Dad is one of the greatest human beings I know. This is due to his love and respect for others, his work ethic, and his incredible character. For as long as I can remember, my Dad has worked beyond hard for everything he's achieved in his life, whether it's training for a bike race, finishing his residency in Dallas, raising two children, celebrating 35 years of marriage, or caring for countless patients every day.

My Dad is a man of few words, but they're always great ones. His life motto has always been: "work hard, play hard" (which he told me repeatedly the week before I left for college). My dad has always been the #1 role model in my life. He taught me to stay true to myself, decide what I want, and chase after it, knowing that there will always be bumps in the road. He reminds me that life is not easy, but if you work hard, try not to complain, and treat others with kindness and respect along the way, your dreams will come true.

I love you Dad. Thank you for teaching me about living life greatly and with respect for others. You are a hero to many!