I would like to tell you about a man I knew, an ordinary man who you would walk past in the street without giving him a second glance. However, to me this man was an inspiration, through his many great qualities he has influenced my life and shaped my future, he is a man I look up to and respect. He was born in 1940; his father was away fighting in the war. His mother was killed by a German bomb when he was three years of age, he was shipped off to live with his grandparents. When the war was over his father left the army and within two years was remarried.

His father had four more children from this marriage but being the only child from his father’s first marriage he felt that he didn’t fit in. He was a lot older than the other children were and was often left out of family activities. His stepmother was never cruel to him but he knew that she never loved him the same as the others. He never felt like part of the family. I admire the courage this man showed when at the age of 14 he decided to leave his unhappy home and go and find a family, he joined the Navy. He said he was terrified, not only because he feared the unknown but also that they would find out that he had lied about his age.

However, he found his family, he fitted in and he thrived. Later in life, this man showed devotion, compassion and a kindness that I admire. When he was 35, he was married with three very small children; by that time his wife was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was told that it was terminal and she had probably less than six months to live. He retired from the Navy. He nursed her through her illness, he cared for her, and he devoted himself to her. Within four months of leaving the Navy his wife died and he was faced with the daunting challenge of bringing up his children alone.

Family was the most important thing to this man, the sheer determination and strength of character he showed whilst fighting to keep his family together is admirable. He battled with the authorities who repeatedly told him that he was not capable of looking after his children alone. It was 1975 and back then men didn’t bring up children on their own, especially children as young as his, they were four, two and one. He had no help as he had lost touch with his father. He was persistent and never gave up and, in time, he proved himself more than capable of taking care of his family.

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Whilst his children attended school, he again showed his courage, ambition and determination by retraining. The work that he had done in the Navy wasn’t really relevant outside. He needed a career and although as a child he did not do well at school and hated the idea of retraining at the age of 41 he knew he had no choice. He found it hard and he struggled but he never gave up and by the end, he had done it. By no means was he the top of the class but he was a fully qualified mechanic. He got a good job and worked hard to support his family. I admire this man for the support and unconditional love that he showed to his daughter.

When she was nineteen, she married a man that he didn’t approve of. He never told his daughter his true feelings towards the man. When she first met her husband he tried to steer her away from him but she was nineteen and she thought she was a grown up and she knew best. He walked her down the aisle with a tear in his eye, but she didn’t know that that tear wasn’t a tear of joy but a tear of sadness for he knew what way this relationship was headed. Within three years, the marriage was over and his daughter was left with a daughter of her own.

He never judged her; he was supportive and caring, patient and kind. He helped her get her own home and he spent many hours just holding her as she cried. Without him, her broken heart may never have mended. I admire this man because he showed great courage when he himself became ill. Whilst working, a piece of heavy machinery fell on his shoulder, within 18 months he had full blown rheumatoid arthritis, the doctor said that the accident with the machinery had brought it on. He was forced to give up work. Eventually walking became difficult and these funny little lumps starting appearing on his elbows.

All his joints were affected and he was in considerable pain but remained good-natured. His daughter came to see him everyday, she would help with the housework, the shopping and general stuff that he was unable to do any more. He hated being dependant on her and she knew it but they never spoke of it. They used to talk and laugh for hours but never once did she hear him complain, never once did she see him sad. In 2002, at the age of 62 the man I admire had a heart attack. His daughter found him when she visited, he was rushed to hospital but was very seriously ill.

The daughter had called her siblings and as his three children stood round his bed, he slipped away. The person I admire had a strong set of values that have shaped the way I think and behave. He believed that family was the most important thing. Family comes first he would say, family is above everyone and everything else. He was a very strong man, both physically and emotionally. He showed great courage and determination throughout his life. He was kind and caring. He was loving and loyal. He showed great compassion and understanding. He was my confidant and my best friend. The man I admire is my dad.

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