Everyone should have a hero in mind they both recognize and celebrate.
My hero is my son Adam. The birth of my oldest son was an exhausting experience that was significantly difficult for both Adam and his mother. After 19 hours of labor with no progress, the team of doctors decided a C-section was necessary. I had been in the room much of the time but had to leave when surgery was ordered. I was just leaving and outside of the room when I heard the monitor alarms sound loudly, and hospital personnel rushed past me into the room. I could tell both Adam and my wife were in danger. The noise of a “flat-line” alert from the monitors echoed in my mind. I’m certain the sound was very short, but it was an eternity in my mind. What seemed like hours were minutes, and both mom and son experienced a short bout of hypoxia (about a minute of not breathing), but I was soon told both mom and son were ok.
The immediate joy of being a new parent was fantastic. However, it was not long before we started to notice development challenges in Adam. Brain scans and psychological tests found that a significant amount of the frontal lobe, as well as other portions of the brain, were not operating which impacted his ability to process information in a typical manner. Physicians said Adam would not be able to maintain employment and experts doubted his ability to finish school. In short, his prospects for a normal, happy life were not likely.
Adam personifies what hardship is, and the effort it takes to overcome it. Adam’s disability is not immediately noticeable, which proved to be as much of a curse as a blessing as he grew up. If Adam had a visible handicap, more patience or kindness might have been extended. Adam was not able to evaluate social situations or more specifically body language or social cues. The disability led to anxiety on his behalf and misunderstandings with those with whom he interacted. Especially in school, kids can be very mean as they are all working to develop their own egos, often at the expense of others. However, through many hardships and even more determination, Adam graduated from a public high school.
We encouraged Adam to work with animals through Future Farmers of America and later to develop a veterinary assistant career path because of all the pain I saw inflicted by his classmates. Adam learned early in life that animals are unconditional in their love when you earn their trust. Adam attained post high school education certificates in veterinarian related activities. He maintained a job for seven years with an understanding veterinarian and an equally understanding staff. Adam now works at a grocery store and works through life with dedication and passion. He recently married and is a father to two beautiful girls. And, fortunately it is easier to avoid unsupportive people in your adult life, so Adam has been able to create a successful and “normal” life that he and all around him can be proud of.
Every parent has seen their child endure pain and suffering to some degree. The first time a parent realizes they are helpless to completely protect their child or fix whatever hurt they feel is significant. That desire to protect sometimes never goes away but the parent’s angst becomes easier to manage as we see these children become adults who can handle the challenges before them. Any child who can overcome a lifetime of physical or mental challenge to succeed as an adult is a hero to me.
We all have heroes in our life that have shaped who and what we are. It’s important to say thank you to those individuals and share their stories. Exemplary stories like Adam’s are likely to inspire others as people grow positive when they hear uplifting stories. The world seems filled with negativity and bad news. In reality most of our immediate surroundings can be seen in a positive light and your hero, or heroes, can help you remember and focus on the strength you have received from them. Who is your hero and when was the last time you thanked them and shared their story of inspiration?