As a kid growing up in LA, playing in bands, carousing on the streets until late at night with friends, carefree and irresponsible, I didn’t appreciate the immense difference between my life and my father’s early life, nor did I realize his impact on my character and ambitions. My father is a Holocaust survivor. At a young age, in a small village in the Carpathian mountains, he was taken away to the camps. He rarely spoke about his unfathomable will to survive. I only knew bits and pieces that caused an effusive array of raw emotion to surface in my mind, and which today, is still difficult to grasp.
Mornings, my father would be out to door to work before I got to the breakfast table, he’d return each night around supper time. I was oblivious to his ongoing struggle to make a living, his work ethic, his stamina, his unwillingness to accept defeat. I was self-absorbed and wreaking havoc, taking the easy path in most cases, rarely pushing myself to a higher level.
Years past, and sometime in college, I started to work, work hard. I wanted to be a doctor. Today, as a Professor of Medicine at an Ivy league medical school, I know that my father has been my role model. Although invisible to me while growing up, he has set an example to follow which went unrealized until I was mature enough to envision it.
The powerful role parents play as role models cannot be understated or minimized. Somehow, someway, in the impressionable minds of children, our parents have influenced us in ways that we cannot ponder during our youth and we only appreciate over succeeding decades.