“Dad, I do not think I can do this! They are going to stare at me and think I am a freak! Please, take me home.” ‘Sandy, we have already discussed this. They might stare at you at first, but once they get to know you, they will not even notice. It is time to take the next step. You cannot stay hidden at home forever. Just remember what I said: I saw a man who had no feet, then I saw a man who had no shoes. It looks to me like you have both feet and shoes, now get out of the car.” Those words still echo in my ears and it has been 49 years since my father spoke them. I told him he was downright mean! As he drove off, I knew there was nothing else to do but enter the building. I was so scared I was numb, but I kept putting one foot in front of the other until I reached the door. Once I turned the knob, there was not turning back!
I had just recovered from surgery for cancer of the tongue. I was 18 with five teeth in my head (they had to pull them for the radiation treatments) and it would be two years before I could wear dentures. They had left me five teeth, so my mouth would not sink in like Grandma Moses. I was not a pretty sight by any means! Not only did I not have enough teeth to smile, but I was red from my nose down because of the radiation. My dad had enrolled me in business college and was determined I was not going to sit around the house and feel sorry for myself. He thought it was time for me to pick up the broken pieces of my life and make a new one. He said I had to accept the fact that life happens and there are some things you can change and some things you can’t.
Now, as I look back, I see that he was being a hero in the disguise of being a father. He loved me enough to be tough, when deep down his heart was breaking. It took courage for him to speak those words, knowing I did not have the maturity to understand what he was doing. My father was a man of few words, but when he spoke, we knew to listen. I had to remember that my father knew what it was like to be different and laughed at by others. When he was eight years old, he had a tumor on the brain and had to wear a helmet for many months. He knew from experience how self-pity can move in and steal your hope. He was determined that was not going to happen to me. He knew I had to keep going to prove to myself that my life wasn’t over.
Yes, heroes come in all shapes and sizes and everyone of us has the potential of being one! All we have to do is have the strength to pick up the broken pieces, dust ourselves off and keep going no matter what. We have to realize until God calls us home, He is not finished with us yet. He will give us the strength to make it, but we have to do our part. We cannot let the fear inside of us become bigger than our faith, because faith develops strength. It is the inner strength that gives others hope. We need to nurture that strength and cast the weakness aside. Before we know it, we realize we can make it! All we have to do is look down and see that if we have both feet and shoes, no one that can stop us but ourselves!
Yes, my father became my hero because he let me discover there is a little bit of heroes an all of us if we persevere and keep going. Little did I realize one day someone would tell me I was a hero. My youngest daughter Bridgette slipped a note in my hand and it made such an imprint on my heart, it will be there forever!
“My Hero, My Mother”
My hero is my mother,
She is very brave.
I will love her like no other
Pass my dying day.
My mom fought cancer when she was young.
They thought she was going to die.
But she knew her life had just begun, and
dying to her, was a lie.
She never gave up on her life.
She fought it all the way through.
It might have caused her a lot of strife,
but it was worth it, this she knew.
She taught me to love life in a very special way
She will always be my hero pass my dying day!
So you see, there is indeed a hero in all of us! “Thanks Dad and I am sorry for calling you mean! You were indeed my hero!”