Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Heroes

I have been thinking a lot about heroes this week. Not necessarily heroes in general, but heroes specific to my life. I have several, but two in particular standout in my mind.

One is a person I have known since 5th grade. Her family moved into the area and she started attending Mt Hall Elementary in the fall of 1974. We became friends and have remained friends, through thick and thin, good times and trials, ever since. Neither of us had really thought about it much, we had just always been friends, until one day a few years ago her then boyfriend asked, “How long have you two known one another?” We both gave the flip answer; “since 5th grade.” Dave persisted and said, “How long ago was that?” We had to stop and think then and we came up with . . . 34 years. Wow!

I actually blogged about her once before, back in June 2008 when she and Dave got married. More of the details of our friendship can be found there. However, today I am writing about heroes, and I want to tell you why she qualifies.

This dear friend has been through seventeen kinds of hell in her life yet she always has a smile and a helping hand for the next person she meets.

One of her sons and one of her younger brothers both suffer from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. They both live with her. Her son is now 25 and her brother is in his 40s. Onset of the disease for each of them was when they were adolescents. For many years she was their primary caregiver and when that got to be too much, nurses started coming in. This means through the major part of everyday, strangers are all over her house. Not that they stay strangers for very long, but think about what that means. Because these nurses are responsible for the guys’ complete care, they are doing laundry and cooking and cleaning in her house, oftentimes when she is not there.

Two years ago when her Dad passed away, her Mom came to live with her as well. She is in her 70s and has cancer. She has been on the verge of dying several times over the past few months and it speaks volumes about my friend’s undying dedication to helping and healing that her Mom is still around.

There is more, lots more, but some of it I don’t feel I have the liberty to share. Suffice it to say, for all she has accepted gracefully in her life, she will always be a hero in my book.

My other significant hero is a guy I met in 1986 when I was living in southern California. My then husband, Gary, was in the Navy and, after we got settled in Oxnard, he deployed to Puerto Rico. Steve had been in the same company, but had mustered out so stayed behind. Steve shared an apartment with several other Navy and ex-Navy guys in the complex next to ours.

While my husband was in Puerto Rico a blow-by-blow record of his infidelity came to light. I won’t bore you with the details, but this was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. The next time Gary called from Puerto Rico, I told him it was over and I was leaving. When word got out, I discovered the number of real friends I had in southern California could be counted on one finger . . . Steve.

I was 23 years old and terrified.

Over the course of the next few days, Steve helped me in countless ways. He helped me hold my act together. Without his help I would never have rented a trailer and gotten it loaded with the few personal items I was taking. The whole time I was scared to death Gary would get emergency leave and show up before I could get gone. While others turned their backs on me for leaving, Steve stood by me. He never questioned my decision or the reasons behind it. He trusted that what I was doing was the right thing for me and he never judged me for what I felt I had to do.

I have always felt him to be heroic for standing up for what he believed was right in the face of plenty of adversaries ready to tell him he was wrong. I’ve always appreciated his presence at that most difficult time in my life and am very happy to have reconnected with him recently.

These are two of the significant heroes in my life. Who are yours?

1 comment:

Odie Langley said...

Two very good stories. Glad you had them in your life.