The Other Side

by Bobby Benfield, CEO

My Dad is my hero.  He always has been.  He always will be.

When I was young, I just wanted to be with him.  I wanted to be like him.  I couldn’t wait until he came home from work.  I cried like a baby the day he told me we were moving to Boston and he needed to leave six months before us.  Fortunately, we never moved.

Among my fondest memories of my childhood are my regular ocean swims with my Dad.  On the weekends, either first thing in the morning or at sunset, we’d swim out beyond the break and float. It didn’t matter whether we had much or little to talk about.  Being together in that setting was enough.

My Dad, Professor Emeritus of General Thoracic Surgery at UCLA, reached the pinnacle of his profession.  The fellows, residents and medical students he’s taught, the patients for whom he’s cared and my Dad’s colleagues see a teacher, a leader and a man who’s earned their respect.  They see someone who will do whatever it takes to achieve the right and best result.  I’ve often thought about how fortunate I am to see the side of my Dad that the public never sees.  What I see is hidden behind the guard my Dad unfortunately must put up in his working world, as we all do.

Dad, it’s time for the guard to come down.  The world needs to see what I see.

I see a man who is all heart.  This is a man who leaves flowers by my mother’s grave twice each week. This is a man who wrote me one of the most thoughtful letters I’ve ever received when I decided to leave the practice of law for the risky world of the Internet. It didn’t matter that I happened to be 32 years old at the time, lived just a few miles away or that he thought I was making the wrong decision. He still took the time, thought and care to give me his best fatherly advice. As my Dad will tell you, “a parent’s job is never done.” I see a man who is now mentoring my brother-in-law as he rebuilds a career in academia after undergoing an exceedingly difficult period in his life.  I see a man who graciously and freely gives of his time whenever someone comes to him for help or advice of any kind.  I see a man who always picks up the tab. 

Now, I have the privilege of being a father.  I have the awesome responsibility of nurturing my two boys.  I need to decide how to mentor and teach them and what kind of role model I want to be.  Fortunately, I don’t have to look very far to find one.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.  I love you.