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Archive for May 3rd, 2015

Arthur Ashe HeroismKeeping up the theme that was the subject of an earlier post this week, I decided that for this Sunday morning’s musical selection I would play a lovely version of Heroes from David Bowie.  It’s an acoustic version (with Gail Ann Dorsey accompanying him on vocals and bass) from a 1996 performance at the Bridge School Benefit, an annual concert began by Neil Young to benefit the Bay Area school that helps kids with severe speech and physical impairments.  In that context, the song takes on additional layers of meaning as you see the many parents in the audience with their children, many cradling them.

Heroism.

Looking for an image to illustrate this post, I did an image search by punching in the word hero.  It was all superheroes and warriors which saddened me because I know that heroism is something far more than that.  It’s about doing those things that need to be done, about taking responsibility  in  order to serve a purpose beyond your own needs.  We think of it as a rare thing but it is evident every day in the actions of those people who give so much of themselves to others.

For me, an example of this came to me in a very personal way.  When my mother was struggling in the last months of her battle with cancer, I visited her for  last time.  Her and my father had been together for about 46 years at that point, years which could be described as turbulent at best.  For such a long married couple, they had an odd love/hate relationship which had them always on the edge of huge screaming  battles that were fraught with violence.  They were terrible things to see and even as a child I often wondered why they remained together.  But they did and as she neared the end of her life, Dad became her cook, her maid, her nurse,  and her driver to the many treatments that made up the last months of her life.  Her everything.

When I made my last visit, I noticed a photo on her bedside table.  It was photo of the two of them together from several years before, standing at some Florida site drenched in sun.  On the cheap little frame, underneath my father was a word formed in simple block letters, those type of things that you rub on from a sheet.

It was the word Hero.

Now, at that point in my life I didn’t see my father in heroic terms.  Far from it.  No, he was and is a very flawed human being with many traits that are far from any definition of heroism.  But in this case, he took on the form of a hero for my mother and in that moment, looking at that photo, for  myself as well. I realized that the word was not about great accomplishment but rather about following that need to serve another.

So it can be for everyone, as the song says :

I, I will be king
And you, you will be queen
Though nothing will drive them away
We can beat them, just for one day
We can be heroes, just for one day

I finally came across the  quote at the top from the late Arthur Ashe that seemed to best fit the thought .

Have a great Sunday. Be a hero to someone today.

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