Monday, May 11, 2015

May 12

I don't have too many personal heroes in my life.    My childhood heroes, well, they tended to shed off with the years, either from my peeking behind the curtain, or maybe from just the knowledge that true heroes are pretty rare.  And then there is the definition itself that kind of fouls things up, too.  Webster defines hero as: 

  • "A person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities"
  • "A person who is greatly admired"
  • "One who shows great courage"
  • "A man admired for his achievements and noble qualities"

Personally, I think the term is bandied about a bit much these days.  According to the media there are many heroes out among us, and while I agree with it in general terms, I would think the plural of the definition is warranted.  Act(s) plural.  Qualities(s) plural.  And so on.  If I race to a car on top of a kid and show uncommon strength in lifting it, I will be called a hero.  In actuality, I simply did a single act that was uncommon.  And frankly, my racing days are over.  Medal of Honor winners, and now I know I'm crossing a line with this train of thought, are honored usually for single acts of heroism.  Are they heroes, well sure?  In that instant, at that time, they sure are and I bow to their efforts.  But they can come home and be wife-beaters, racists, homophobes and are they still heroes?  

My definition is a little different than Webster's I guess.  Oh, and by the way, Webster, why does your definition only count men as heroes?  My idea of a true hero is someone who never takes the cape off.  Here is mine:

  • Someone who, day in and day out, year in and year out, enters the social arena and do their best for their families, friends and their associations.
  • Someone who is, by their nature, always there - a parachute for others in time of need.
  • Someone who has overcome obstacles either in character or physicality to achieve success. 

I have a couple friends who I think are heroes and my definition confirms it.  If I mentioned that to them over a beer they would probably look dumbfounded and might even tell me I was full of it.        I just might tell them anyway.  These friends never waver in their kindness to others, their steadfast loyalty and I know they are just a phone call away from handing me their parachutes.  

But today I want to tell you about someone who is a member of the family.  Tomorrow is May 12, my brother Phil's birthday.  

Phil wasn't in the military.  He didn't charge an enemy-held hill single-handed.  He didn't rush into a burning sorority house and save all the occupants.  He hasn't been given the keys to the city for building a medical wing on the hospital.  By media standards he is probably considered a fairly average Joe.  

In reality, like a kid around his favorite ballplayer, I pretty much admire Phil.  Folks who know me well know I am socially awkward, shy and struggle in conversation.  Sometimes I hide it well, but for me its work.  These traits have branded me, at times aloof, an accusation that hurts.  Phil has the same traits to a lesser degree, but he was able to overcome it with a gift of gab, of story-telling, and social command that astonishes me even today.  He can walk into a room and take it over.  He'll glad hand everyone and make them feel like each one is the most important person in the room.  He's that good.  While I'm struggling to come up with an opening line, he's half way through a story that will will spellbound everyone and have them reeling with laughter at its end.  Anyone who can do that is rather heroic in my book.  

He would do anything in his power to help anyone in the family.  And he's always been there for the Wombie and I.  I don't think either one of us has ever called in dire need of that parachute, but we know he's there.  We don't talk as often as we should, and when we do, it's usually light banter and not the heavy stuff.  But he's always there.  Isn't that heroic? At least to my definition.  

Here are pictures of Phil's 3rd birthday party at our house.  Were there really that many kids in Seaton?  I don't know who these kids were?  Is that a Hill?  A Shike?  And isn't that Kim in the lower picture along with Bill?   

Happy Birthday, Philip. 

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