This is first in a series
“It’s hard to find heroes nowadays.” – paraphrasing my ALS clinical director. She’s partially right… and partially wrong.
I’d argue that finding heroes in today’s public world is a lot harder. Athletes are disgraceful, frankly. Our parents used to look up to athletes, remember that? And as such they had a public persona that was something that people could look up to. Now they don’t care and don’t want to be role models. Movie stars? Well there has always been a seedy underbelly of Hollywood, but there were gems growing up. Jimmy Stewart? John Wayne? Gary Cooper? I’m sorry but Channing Tatum isn’t the same. Politicians? I’m gonna say mostly no. Even religious leaders in the Catholic Church, people we should look up to? There are a lot of examples of sinners…
I’d also argue that all the above is a crock of bull. There ARE heroes out there, good people who’s public persona makes it less obvious. Or flying under the radar because their persona is not larger than life.
Heroes aren’t “out there”. They are right next to you. There is a hero at my work that every day comes in and takes care of his people, standing up for them and deflecting for them and caring for them. There is a hero that cares for her aging stepfather who is ill. There is the hero that teaches school with migraines from light intensity. There is the hero that holds the house together if their spouse is out of town. There is the hero that straps on his tools of the profession every morning, taking calls on days off or at vacation, and comes home to his family every night. There is the priest that is seemingly everywhere, tirelessly bringing joy, hope, and love to all the people around him. There is the bishop walking anonymously among his sheep on the March for Life. There is the mother caring for her son with cancer. There is the young man himself with cancer, battling through some of the most painful and intense treatments. These are the real heroes we should be looking for. They are people like you and me, who try every day and get up when they fall.
So, as my first hero, I want to point out a hero super close to me, who will hate this post. My wife Melanie.
Mel stays at home with our 4 kids, and makes EVERYTHING work in our house. (I fix things she tells me to.). Lunches? Mel. Dinner? Mel. Homework? Mel. Laundry? Cleaning? Everything? Mel. (I know, I’m lazy and this should show it.) Mel also provides a sounding board for her sisters, is a good friend to lean on, a comedian at heart, and strong in her faith. Not only that, but she takes the time to make sure our children learn the faith and grow up with manners. And now she cares for me as I’m less able to do things. Dressing changes, IV infusions, doctor visits, even buttoning my button when I can’t do it. She started a job selling skin care products to make some money on the side for expenses as we deal with the illness (shameless plug for her stuff!) She goes with me to every doctor visit. She’ll come with me to Lourdes. My partner in life is my first hero, my strong right arm.
Lets not say that this doesn’t stress her out – it stresses her immensely. But she put on a brave face to all of it. I draw strength from her strength as she deals with all this stuff. Like I said before, the real heroes are right among us, and I see Mel’s heroism every day, from waking up to bed-down. And when at the end of the evening, I see her quietly resting and recuperating from the day, I say a prayer of thanks for her. And then I tell her I love her.
Like I said, she’s gonna hate this because it’s embarrassing, ALS makes you more PDA though. I have a condition, I’m allowed (and I don’t care what you think!). But I think that even though it’s embarrassing, it’s important to highlight the heroes that are right here right next to us.
Look for your heroes, look right next to you, in your family, your church, your neighborhood, your work. Then when you find them there, find the hidden heroes out there in the public sphere (I have a few even though I criticized them in this post.)
The glass is not just half full. The glass is overflowing, you just have to know where to look for the bar!