David Bowie sang a song I liked a long time ago. He shouted at the top of his lungs, “We can be heroes!”
We can be heroes?
Webster says a hero is a person that shows great courage. Webster also says that courage is having the mental or moral strength to keep forging ahead through danger, fear or difficulty. So, I realize that, according to these definitions, I am surrounded by heroes. You may be one of them.
My dad is one of them. Yes. He’s my hero. But it goes beyond that. He’s just heroic. Moral strength is his forte. When he was young, the younger kids in his family were starting to go hungry. They were poor farmers living in the south. The depression was hitting them hard. He quit school to go to work so they could buy a milk cow. His own father asked him to do this.
His 19 year old daughter died in the late sixties. He survived and moved forward with a kind heart. My parents lost their child, and that often spells divorce for married couples, but neither of them walked away.
Dad was injured at work and was told at one point he’d probably never walk again. After umpteen surgeries and trips to hospitals in other states, he walked in the front door of our house with bizarre electrodes sticking out of his body. One time I had to turn it down because he had accidentally turned the thing too high and was practically frying his spine on the inside of his body. Standing on the tips of his toes, he yelled to me, “Turn it down! Turn it down!” I did and he laughed. He’s in his eighties now, he has to use a cane sometimes, but he’s still walking, which isn’t always easy because Dad now has what’s called “Lewy Body Disorder.” You get two major problems for the price of one. A combination of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. But he hasn’t complained about it. He takes his meds and does the best he can.
Growing up with comic books, it was always clear to me that a hero was a person who had some special ability. A hero was strong when others were weak. A hero saved people. But life is not a comic book. And I am amazed by the resiliency and perseverance in people like my dad. Some have made it through childhood horrors that are almost unspeakable. Some have made it through condemnation and abuse of all kinds. Some are moving forward through disease and heartache that they did not earn for themselves. Some have endured tremendous loss and pain and neglect, but they take another step, and another, and the sun rises again. They open the door and head into the world to see what the day has.
People like this have shown me that we really can be heroes.
If I could, I’d make an awesome, flowing, super-hero cape for each and every one of them. I’d write them a theme song. But I guess they’ll just have to make do with my admiration.
Peace to you.
© LW Publishing 2010