spf ~ hero

Stuff Portrait Friday, better known as SPF and brought to us by Kristine, is a cool thing. It’s interesting to take whatever topic is chosen and think about how to apply the idea. Sometimes it’s harder than others. This week’s word, Hero, is a tough one for me. I’ve thought about it for several days and it escapes me. Finally, I decided to check the definition of the word…I searched several online dictionaries.

The definitions varied slightly and there were options! Gaaaa! I really just wanted a concise description but what it comes down to is that a hero (at least for this purpose) is someone we admire; someone that shows courage; someone who fights for a cause perhaps; someone who displays qualities we ourselves wish we had; someone we hope to emulate. Now that is a tall order. Kristine says her heroes are her mom and sister. I can most definitely say that no one in my family of origin is a hero. Not to me. So who qualifies for that distinction in my life? This kept me up last night. Really. It did.

I mean, I have friends. In the real world and in the online world. I had a mentor or two as a younger person. But who would I like to model myself after? Who do I respect enough to consider them a hero? I’ve spent years and years in therapy learning to be like me. Just. Me. I needed to look at this in a different way obviously! What I finally came up with was this…there are a few people who come to mind when I think of qualities I would like to cultivate in myself and for the purposes of this post, that’s what I’m going to use to define hero and I have more than one. So here we go:

There are few famous people who have impressed me in my lifetime. I suppose I could list them but I won’t. I am, however, choosing to highlight the one who has affected my entire life in a positive way.

Fred Rogers

As a very, very young child, I would sit with my grandmother on the sofa and watch Mister Rogers. As long as I was there, with Gramma, I was safe. No one could hurt me. Mister Rogers meant safety to me. He still creates those feelings of safety for me all these years later. As I got older, he really came to embody peacefulness for me. I was blessed to communicate with him several years before his death and his letter still comforts me to this day. I was surprised to learn that he responded personally to each and every letter he received. Fred Rogers spent his lifetime making the world a better place for children. A safer place for them. As far as I’m concerned, that makes him a hero. That makes him my hero.

In my real life, there are people who qualify as heroes to me. I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t like it if they knew I’d put their pictures up here though. So, I’ll just write about them for now. The first one who comes to mind is my very first, ok second, but the first one I trusted so it counts to me, therapist. His name was Chris. He literally saved my life. He was the first person in my life (and I didn’t meet him until I was 28 years old) who accepted me just as I was. It made no difference what I would tell him or yell at him or whatever. He accepted it all. He didn’t baby me or coddle me or scold me or do anything but accept me. Lock, stock and barrel and trust me, the barrel was full…of ugly stuff. And it hurt. It was a struggle for me to trust anyone. To believe that I wasn’t at fault for what happened to me. It took years and we eventually parted ways however I know with every single part of my being that if it weren’t for Chris, I’d be dead.

The next person who comes to mind is my foreign language teacher from high school. Her name is Debbie. Of course I didn’t call her that in high school (!) but she still teaches (although in a different state) and she is very, very private. If I were to put her name here and she learned about it, she would feel um, compromised I think. So, Debbie it is. This woman saved me too. I was a sophomore in her french class and was a very good student. Suddenly, I wasn’t a good student anymore. And she wanted to know why. And she invited me to her classroom after school to talk about it. And she listened. And I felt a connection with her that I still feel. She connected with teenagers in a way that few do. It was a gift, a candle in a dark time and it made her my hero. 

While neither one of the people listed above are part of my life now on a daily basis, it doesn’t change their hero status for me. There are regulars in my life now and in their own ways, they are heroes too. So, do I write about the friend who is an ambulatory quadripalegic and talk about her determination to walk and regain her life after a terrible car accident? Or the ex-cousin/friend who adopted me as her sister and lost her 10 year old daughter in a car accident last summer. She carries on every day in the face of unimaginable grief and inspires me with her determination to reclaim her life now that she is a single mother to her son. Or how ’bout the people I’ve met online who touch my heart daily? The ones, like Deb, who fought cancer and won and who now fights every day to raise money, to find a cure, to get people to donate blood; or like Susie, who is battling an illness that has no name. The options are scary and yet she spends her days living to the best of her ability and finding her way through what must be a terrifying maze of uncertainty.

I could go on and on I guess because when I think “hero”, I think determination, caring, love, a desire to make things better somehow. I think “hero” and see hard working folks doing their best to earn a living, support their families and make their lives better. I wonder if we’re not all heroes in a way. That’s a powerful thought isn’t it? What if, simply by living our best life, doing the best we can to be kind, loving, respectful people who attempt to leave the place we are in just a bit better than it was when we got here; what if that is what really makes a hero? That is big. That is life changing. That is an “aha” moment.

At least for me.

So, didja play?


6 responses to this post.

  1. Very nicely posted! I had the same struggle at first.

    I played!


  2. Excellent post. I love the wholesome thought of Mr.Rogers. Both the character and the real person.

    I played


  3. What a wonderfully written SPF! You have amazing insight on this topic. I watched Mr. Rogers as a kid and always thought he was awesome.

    I played.


  4. Ah Mr. Rogers! He was one of my favorites as a child. Great post!
    I played.


  5. He was such a favorite of mine, as well! Happy SPF! I played too! :]


  6. I figured that since I wrote such a long SPF that I would read your whole SPF too and I am SO glad I did.
    I got all teary when I saw Mr. Rogers picture.


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