First Person: The Dad Who Wanted His Son to Be a Doctor

I Think Was Better at Following 'the Letter of the Law,' Rather than 'the Spirit of the Law'

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First Person: The Dad Who Wanted His Son to Be a Doctor
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The author, with his daughter Valerie and his father, on a family trip in Colorado.

Sunday is Father's Day. Rather than marking it with declarations about why our fathers are the greatest, or how-to guides on buying Dad the best ties or tools, Yahoo News solicited first-person anecdotes about the contentious or disagreeable moments we've had with our fathers. Here's one reader's story.

FIRST PERSON | My father and I share the same first and last name, but not everything. He wanted me to be a doctor. I wanted to please him, but didn't want to go into the medical profession. Could we ever make such a relationship work?

My dad seemed to buy a different book on careers for me every year, probably better suited for college graduates than a 13-year-old.

But there was one career he always had his heart set on for me: being a doctor. I'm not sure where it came from, but I suspect its origins are in medical career that helped him escape the poverty of a small dairy farm in southeast Wisconsin in the 1960s. What parent wouldn't want their kid to follow them in a successful career?

It must have been tough for him, as my lowest scores seemed to be in math and science, even as I did pretty well in my other courses.

To overcome this, he sought to have me spend my summers as a hospital volunteer where we lived in El Paso, Texas. Knowing how much I liked baseball statistics, he thought "medical records" would be a good start.

I can't say enough how boring it was, spending my days taking stacks upon stacks of medical files, sorting them alphabetically, while other kids had paid jobs or played sports (even though I never lacked for anything). Finally, after finishing one too many mind-numbing filing jobs late one afternoon in the summer of 1984, I left the department and sat out in the lobby. When he saw me out there during rounds, he just about exploded with fury at me. He yelled at me about my work ethic, how important being responsible at work was over his 40 years, and how many tough jobs he had to take in high school paving roads and pumping gas, after life on the farm.

He was right, of course, but being a physician just wasn't for me.

My dad had me try other departments in other summers: radiology, pharmacy, and physical therapy. He almost had me with the last one, but at the end of the summer, I got myself a job writing sports for the El Paso Herald-Post, and I never gave a hospital a second look. Dad finally threw in the towel.

But that didn't mean he lost.

In college in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I got off to a slow start, until I got to the journalism and political science classes. I rode that interest all the way to graduate school, where my grades were strong and I finally got my Ph.D in the year 2000 at Florida State University. And few have been a stronger supporter of my newfound passion than my proud dad, whose lessons about hard work came in handy along the way.

See, I may not be a doctor, but I do have that doctorate.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga.

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