Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Honk If You Love Your Hero

Who is your hero?

If you posed this question to my boys, you would definitely get an ear-full!  Their list of heroes would not be short: Spiderman, Superman, Bumblebee and Optimus Prime Transformers, Captain America, Iron man…pretty much if the person wears a cape, underwear outside of their clothes or has some kind of robotic powers, they are hooked.  Once in awhile, if we get lucky, they may (as an afterthought of course!) mention a parent or grandparent but we usually don’t have a high enough “cool-quota” to compete with the big muscled and high-flying heroes of their world.

The heroes of our youth are usually easy to peg: they are decked out in cool costumes and jump out our TV screens bigger than life!  But as we grow up and realize theme songs don’t follow people in real life, our heroes become something else.  Someone else.  Many times the people that we have known all along but never realized how brave and spectacular they really are.

One of my heroes is someone I have known for as long as I can remember and have quietly admired in many ways.  He has transformation abilities known only by an inner circle.  When I was a kid, he could transform into a horse or an airplane and valiantly rescue a captured princess.  These super powers remained strong through the years so that even today he can transform (with the help of the Wii) into a daring sword fighter and challenge my little warriors to a great battle.

the captured princess, age 5
Although he has never donned spandex tights and a cape, he has often come to my rescue when he received a call for help.  Whether it was a frantic call from me in Mexico saying, "The good news is I made it to Mexico.  The bad news is I'm in jail!", or a call from a hospital in Thailand where I had a small favor to ask of him, “Would you mind wiring me $300? It’s no big deal…really, but I have been in a hospital in Chiang Mai the last three days with typhoid fever.  Can you believe how cheap it is here compared to America though!?”

This week, this man will be celebrating six decades and a few additional years that were no doubt spent waiting for a girl that promised she was “almost ready” and would be “right out to the car”.  He waited so patiently most of the time with just an occasional horn-honking; probably just to make sure the horn was still in top notch condition.  Come to think of it, my husband must like to run an occasional test on our horn too.  This man is showing a few gray hairs that I may have contributed to when I brought home a boyfriend covered in tattoos or announced I was roadtriping cross-country with my girlfriends to Colorado even though none of us had ever used a map or changed a tire.

It was not only the words of wisdom he had shared through the years but also the things he never told us that gave him hero status in my heart.  Like the way every Christmas he would open an assortment of office supplies from his four kids who knew he loved to study and always act both surprised (“Oh, wow-more index cards!”) and grateful (“Thanks for the highlighter, I was needing more!”) with each gift.  It was only after we were all grown and gone that he pulled out a giant bag full of unopened highlighters, index cards, pens and white-out one holiday and shared a good laugh with us all.

He is also a man who discovered many unknown things (at least to my mother).  Like the time I came home from college and he pulled back my bangs to discover an eyebrow piercing (how did he know to look!?) or like the time my family went out for pizza and my attempt at going unnoticed with my hood pulled over my head was thwarted as he pulled it off to reveal my neon orange hair (a self-hair dye job gone bad)!  What I discovered through all of his discoveries is that there was nothing I could do (or wear, pierce, or color) that would ever stop his super powerful love for me.  I think we should all honk our horns when we see a man like that, a man that is kind, honest, selfless, and just plain super.

So hat’s off to you, Dad (and I promise my hair isn’t orange this time), you have always been a hero to me.

"He didn’t tell me how to live, he lived and let me watch him do it."

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