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By Mac Bledsoe
In today's society like in the past, kids have heroes. This is a good
thing. However, in modern society it seems the process of selecting heroes
has become rather muddled or confused. Fame should not necessarily make a
person a hero. We have experienced this from both sides: first as parents
of two sons who chose heroes while growing up, and now with two sons who
have distinguished themselves as outstanding athletes who are often the
object of hero worship.
Please hang in here with us on this one so there is no misinterpretation
of what we are attempting to say with this article. We do believe that
both our sons are worthy heroes. Both are moral and admirable people with
a strong sense of family. It is just alarming to see how so many people
have selected them. Many children have been taught to or at least allowed
to select their heroes/role models based upon nothing more than skill at a
game. Few of these kids know much about their heroes beyond this
particular skill. If children had been taught some criteria or standards
for selecting role models, it would be different.
Allow us to illustrate with a personal example. Barbara's Father, Dick
Matthews, died suddenly last week. His five grandchildren delivered the
eulogy at the funeral. It was obvious to all in attendance that "Grandpa
Dick" was a hero to all five. As they spoke of him through their tears,
they all mentioned his hero status in their eyes and used words like
loyal, dedicated to his wife, hard-working, honest, a man whose word was
his bond, as well as describing a fun Grandpa who always had a smile a mile
Dick Matthews was quite a fellow. Nobody could outwork him outside his
home. He built houses for a living but he also ran a 120-acre farm and did
odd jobs on the side as was needed for extra money. If necessary, I'm
certain he would have taken a night job to provide for his family and he
did all of his work cheerfully, and with a bounce of purpose in his step.
Inside their home it was a different story. In his house, Dick was the
king and Maxine, his loving wife of 56 years, waited upon him hand an
foot. It was not a "modern" romance but rather one from a previous
generation and it worked beautifully for them. Dick earned a living and
Maxine kept up the home.
Then, ten years ago, tragedy struck that loving couple and Maxine was
stricken by a severe stroke. Overnight she became in need of
around-the-clock care rather than being the caregiver. Without the
slightest blink, Dick became that 24-hour, 7 days a week caregiver and on
top of it he began to do all of the housework! He did all of the laundry,
cooking, cleaning, shopping and everything else Maxine had done for all
the years of their partnership of love.
A year ago, while out to breakfast alone with Dick, I was struck by the
enormity of the change he had made on behalf of his loving wife and I
asked him how he made such an amazing change so suddenly and so
cheerfully. His answer really affected me that day and it will always be
in my memory. He looked back at me, got tears in his eyes, and then
quietly said, "One day 56 years ago, I said 'I do'..."
At his funeral each of his grandkids said that one thing they had learned
from Grandpa Dick was to honor commitments! They each got the message.
We as adults need to hold people like Dick Matthews up as heroes to our
children! We all know people in our families and in our neighborhoods that
are so worthy of being heroes to our kids. We must not be so careless as
to think that kids will seek out these remarkable but often quiet people;
we need to teach them what a real hero is and point out some in their
immediate surroundings. Sure an athlete makes a flashy hero and many are
worthy of the status, but let's be careful to teach our kids what makes a
person worthy of hero or role model status.
Make tomorrow "Hero Day" in your family and talk about what makes a real
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