my hero


Dr. Steve (a.k.a. Dad)

My dad is my hero.

Those of you who’ve been following Shift for a while may remember that my father is an orthopedic surgeon. He fixes bones. It’s a good job, and an important one, but what many people don’t realize is just how hard it is: My dad has NO IDEA how to sleep for eight hours.

Last weekend, he was on call*. It’d been a busy few days (call goes Thursday through Monday morning), and by Sunday afternoon he was ready for the weekend to be over. He was hoping the emergency room would stay quiet overnight, but, as usual, it didn’t. At around 10 p.m., as I was returning home from a bike ride, he passed me on his way to the hospital. A man with an ankle fracture and dislocation had been admitted to the E.R. He needed surgery, and it had to be done that night.

He didn’t return home until 3:30 a.m.

He left for work the next morning at 6:30.

He hasn’t stopped since. (This weekend — surprise, surprise — he is terribly sick.)


My brother and I say . . .

But my dad isn’t my hero because he’s a hard worker. My dad is my hero because of the note he left me that Monday morning:

Morning Jess!

Loved your last blog! Frank, honest, intense, thought-provoking . . . Hope you got some sleep. Am pretty tired this morning. So glad call is finished. Running late . . . gotta go. I’ll see you later today, and always remember . . . you are loved!!!



Never a thought for himself. The kindest man on the planet. Proud of his daughter despite the fact that, at 29, she’s living with him. Would do anything for the people he loves. Has friends everywhere. (More on this later.) Loves to be active. Thinks deeply. Tolerates his daughter vacuuming his apartment every day.



Dad and me at the Tour de California in Davis on a rainy day in 2009 . . .


*Being “on call” means that, if someone is admitted to the emergency room and needs help, you’re the doctor they call!


Images: Mine

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53 thoughts

  1. I can relate, I have had to move back home a few times and my parents are some of the best in the world. They go out of their way to make me and my wife feel loved and important. It’s great to remember times like these and cherish the time you have with them.

    • Amen, Greg. My dad leaves me notes every morning before he goes to work, and I leave him notes every night before I go to bed. I have a whole stack of his notes (some written on paper towels, lol) which I plan to put in an album someday. (Soon! I hope…) So glad you have parents you can count on, too. I don’t know what I’d do without mine. I am truly blessed…

      • Sounds like you good create a nice (biographical, perhaps?) book with those notes included. I’ve known enough folks in medical fields to understand how tough balancing life and work can be. Takes a strong person. And a good heart. I’m sure it helps to have a daughter at home – even at 29 – offering up a smile when time allows.

        Keep posting, yo!

      • Thanks, Nick! Yeah, he really can’t complain. I’m pretty quiet, and I clean and do laundry and take out the trash and cook, and do all of the things that he otherwise would have a hard time doing. And you’re probably right: I *could* have quite a book with all those notes. Now it’s just about finding the time to assemble it!

        Nice to hear from you. Thanks for reading and commenting! :)

  2. My dad was never around. I hated him for it. It took me a long time to realize it, but he did did it all for us. I wish I could say more but I can’t even focus. I just know he loved us. I wouldn’t be where I’m at if it wasn’t for him. I just hate I missed the the connections I never never got to have with with him.

    • I hear you. I… I know I am incredibly lucky to have such a supportive and connected dad. I honestly don’t know where I’d be today without him. And it sounds like your dad loves you, too… Everyone has a story. Sometimes I have felt guilty for having come from a loving family. So many people around the world do not have that privilege… All I know is that I want to follow my dad’s example and use my advantage for good — with my own family someday and with everyone around me. It’s the best way I know to “give back.”

      Best wishes for you, Billy. Thanks for sharing. :)

    • Aww, thanks Mike. I’ll tell him you said that. I think he’ll probably comment on this site but has just been too sick to do so ’til now!

      Hope you’re having a great weekend!

  3. I like your acronym for MD: My Daddy. Such a beautiful tribute. Got a little teary eyed there…y’all are blessed and y’all know it/show it and that’s what’s really awesome!

    • You’re the best, Bupe! Yes, my dad is pretty special, and MD has always stood for my dad. Haha. Thanks for reading and sharing, as always. It means so much. :) Jess

    • Thanks, Kurt! Unfortunately, he’s still coughing in the other room. He’s pretty tough like me, but this illness has really got him down. I hope he’s able to pull through work okay this week. It’s really hard for doctors to call in sick!

      Thanks for reading. I’ve got some poems of yours to catch up with, too!

  4. He sounds like a great man (MD) with a dedicated sense of commitment to career, people and daughter. Now, who wouldn’t appreciate their place being vacuumed every day…as long as I wasn’t trying to sleep.

    • Hehe. He actually says he doesn’t mind it. I’m pretty much his personal maid. I cook (a little) and clean and do laundry and take out the trash. All of the things that would be a burden to him if her were living as a bachelor. And I don’t vacuum when he’s home. Only when he’s away at work! It keeps me sane. :) And, yes. He is a GREAT man. One of the best.

    • Two things: I LOVE the way the British spell orthopaedic. I’ve always liked spelling it that way because that’s the way I saw it first, and it just looks so much more official. But, alas…silly Americans. And second, that’s cool that you were in the orthopaedic department! So you really *do* know what it’s like! My dad’s schedule is crazy and always has been… He’s still pretty sick. Thanks for the well wishes. I hope he gets better soon, too! :)

  5. You have such a beautiful way of writing. I feel this way about my dad and love hearing the stories of others who share my fortunate and loving upbringing :-)

    • Thank you, Suzi! It means so much that you would read and write a comment on my site! Yes, we are very fortunate. There are so many out there who do not share our same luck. I can only hope to be as good a light to the world as my dad has been to me.

    • Indeed, Carl. You are spot on. This apple didn’t fall far from the tree. And both he and I need each other — especially right now.

      Thank you so much. I hope you have a wonderful week. :) Jess

  6. you are blessed to have a dad who (despite his busy schedule) reminds you that you are loved. =)

    i hope he is able to recover from his current illness and get plenty of rest and much needed sleep in the coming days.

    • Thank you, Sophia! Yes, I am incredibly blessed. God has been good to me through my dad.

      I hope he gets better, too! He was pretty sick today. Thank you for the well wishes. Much love to you. :)

  7. Your dad is a pretty amazing guy. I could have guessed that just by what I’ve been able to tell of you. You’re a very self-assured person. That’s hard to come by if a great Dad wasn’t involved.

    • Haha, Lucas. A pretty assured person? On the outside… on my blog, perhaps. There’s a whole side of me I don’t often show… It’s part of that “this is me” post I wrote a few days ago. How much do I tell?… Deep down I know who I am and what I stand for and why I stand for it. I guess that that must be my “Dad” side coming through. (He *is* amazing.) But under the surface lies a ton of insecurity and disappointment. I still have much to live up to.

      • I wouldn’t worry too much about all the insecurity stuff. (How’s that for an oxy-moron? Don’t *worry* about being insecure?? Lol). Almost everybody is insecure deep down. You’ll be just fine. :)

      • If you say so… Thanks for your vote of confidence… Also, I’ve appreciated your honesty on your blog. It’s made me feel a little less alone. :)

      • I read somewhere that, if you’re going to write with brutal honesty, you should be prepared to have a lot of people pissed at you. That may have been Stephen King…can’t remember for sure. Anyway, I’ve managed to piss a few people off and make almost everyone else uncomfortable. Oh well. Life’s to short and this world too much of an illusion to worry too much about it.

  8. Touched my heart Jess… Someone close to me is also a physician/surgeon…
    This is a beautiful tribute to your Dad and he must be so so proud of you ~ Lots of Love to you x RL ps: I am seeing a top ortho surgeon this morning! Hope your beautiful post brings me luck! :)

    • Aww, thank you so much Robyn – for checking in and for everything. My dad is an amazing man and I am incredibly lucky to have him. I hope your appointment went well! You will have to keep us all updated. I’ve been thinking about you… Much love to you! :) Jess

    • Yes, I am a terrible neat freak! Everything has to be clean and put away before I can focus on anything — including my writing. It’s bad! I would do well in Japan because the apartments are so small?

    • Haha, yeah he’s pretty great. It’s meant a lot to me that he’s encouraged me and taken in an interest in my writing all along the way… And, thanks! I feel old. I thought I’d always be in my twenties…

  9. A great tribute to your father, you are both very lucky (and both very talented). It takes a very special person to be so committed to work, deal with all the issues physicians deal with and still have that drive to live life well…and also understand the most important thing is his beautiful daughter. The world would be a better place if all fathers did the same.

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