July 9, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Posted in Experiences, Family, Health, Mental Health | 4 Comments
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“Some talk of Alexander

and some of Hercules,

Of Hector and Lysander

and such great names as these;

But of all the world’s great heroes

there’s none that can compare…”

from the marching song, ” The British Grenadiers”)

Hero: a man of distinguished courage or performance, admired for his noble qualities. (The Macquarie Dictionary)

In modern usage, the term ‘hero’ has been debased. It is thrown out today in many places as well as on the battlefield – on the football field and the swimming pool and in situations where no ‘heroism’ has been exhibited,.

In some cases, the term can be appropriate, as in when someone has overcome some great physical, emotional or spiritual adversity. However, in the main, the ‘noble’ aspect has been omitted, and hero status is granted to many who do not deserve it. This has led to real heroes being undervalued.

Noble: of an exalted moral character or excellence (ibid.)

That is the aspect that has been omitted in today’s definition – morality; doing the right thing, especially in the face of various pressures, which also brings in the aspect of courage.

My father is 91. He is a very independent man with a hugely strong will. He is also a loving and caring man. He is blind and now, after another bout of pneumonia, he is weak and frail.

However he has come though many crises in his life: five years as a fighter pilot in WWII; making the decision to bring his family to Australia for a better life.

Dad – August 2007

He has also had many health crises: he almost died of pneumonia as a 4-year-old; he almost died of polio when he was 40; he almost died of severe and multiple infections when he was 97. Every time, he was given up for dead by those who treated him.

And every time, he made the conscious or unconscious decision that he would live. He did it again last week. He has come through all these challenges with grace and dignity.

But this time, as well as being weak and blind, Dad is well advanced in the memory loss of Alzheimers. He wants, more than anything, to go home, to the home he built for us, his beloved wife and family, almost sixty years ago. But there is nobody able to care for him 24 hours a day, and he needs that care now.

He still has his intellect thank goodness, and today, he made a momentous decision. He agreed that he must go into a care facility.

We hope that he will remember that decision tomorrow, but even if he doesn’t, he has made it at a time when he knew the facts. He made it, with grace and dignity,  for the benefit of his family, and against all that he wants to do.

That, to me, is a heroic decision. He is my hero and my inspiration.

You may also like to read this previous post The Long Goodbye

© Linda Visman 9th July, 2012


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  1. Absolutely inspiring – a true hero and survivor. Makes me want to shake his hand. You’re so right, like so many other words, the word “hero” has lost its true meaning. The fact that he made that decision by himself is not only a show of his own courage, but also the dignity and care which you have all given him. What a marvellous story. Great post.

  2. Beautifully written, Linda.

    Although, I don’t think the term “hero” has been debased at all. I think, conversely, we are starting to recognise that there are more and more heroes all around us and honouring that every day. I think it shows every ANZAC day when the numbers of people turning out to dawn services and marches is swelling every year. Every day there’s some tribute on Facebook honouring some service or other. It doesn’t seem like much but someone thought it important to spend some time on these people.

    • Thank you Tina, and I certainly hope you are right in what you say about appreciating everyday heroes as well as those who serve/d their country in war. Let’s all look for those real, everyday heroes and not the pop or sports stars. 🙂

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