2- Eric Johnston
My dad, Eric Johnston, is the father of 5 children, 2 daughters-in-law, and 1 granddaughter. He loves any activity on 2 wheels, skiing, cars, and spending time with family. He had a successful orthopedic surgery practice in Utah until February 2022, when a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer pushed him into retirement. While his fight with cancer has reminded me how mentally and physically strong he is, there are many other notable parts of his story worth mentioning.
Just after Thanksgiving in 2019, my dad crashed his mountain bike while jumping off a massive (Ok… decent size) drop in southern Utah. He fractured his shoulder blade and 6 ribs, collapsed his lung, and got a concussion. Less than 2 weeks later, he was back at work, pink backpack and all. Pain prohibited him from doing surgery, but he had patients who needed his help so he went back to the office.
Four weeks after the crash (not enough time for his seven fractures to heal, or for his post-concussion dizziness to subside), our family took a trip to Mexico. He spent a week riding in an old 13 passenger van on bumpy Mexican dirt roads. I never heard him complain.
By the time summer rolled around, he was back to mountain biking, motorcycle riding, and wake surfing.
At my dad’s recent birthday party, I talked to two men he worked with. They are both product reps, supplying my dad with the tools and hardware he used during surgery. They told me about how chaotic things can be in their field. Missing information and miscommunication occasionally lead to the surgical team standing at the operating table with all the wrong tools, pins, plates, and screws. In many cases these two men take a public, verbal beating from the surgeon, even though the fault often falls on someone else.
They both smiled as they explained how differently that situation played out whenever my dad was in charge. My dad would take them out of the room, away from everyone else, and would calmly ask “How are we going to fix this?” Being strong enough to use self-restraint and not belittle is a strength we don’t talk about enough.
Now back to cancer. My grandfather, Oliver Johnston, died of cancer while my dad was in residency. My dad has been able to contemplate that experience, and find things that could have eased the process of losing his own father. He’s implemented those things in our family. We talk openly about death, and how scary it is. He regularly reminds us that he’s proud of what we’re doing, and is excited about what we’re becoming. He has reflected on ways he could have been a better dad, and apologizes for his shortcomings. He and my mom have offered to ease the financial burden of counseling. His ability to adapt his conduct based on his lived experience, has changed my family for the better.
The number of ways my dad has shown he is strong, robust, and highly adaptable throughout his life can’t all fit on this page. As the purpose of this blog is to uplift and inspire, we don’t need a novel. We just need a glimpse into the life of someone who can prove that being strong, robust, and highly adaptable is possible no matter what life throws at you. And a few paragraphs about my dad prove that as well as any book can.
Thanks for being great, Dad.
Happy Father’s Day.
I love you.