Not all heroes possess superhuman talents and capabilities, and not all heroes are those who save lives, protect the peace, and serve our country. Although, many who do these are. A crossing guard who dives in front a speeding car to save a child…that’s heroic. Soldiers who go into war zones while we all remain safely behind living our lives, that’s heroic to me. A parent spending the time to raise and support their families…that’s heroism.
Heroes don’t always perform superhuman feats. They don’t always dive across the road to save someone, or pull someone out of a burning building. They can simply do the regular acts with purpose and dedication, setting a great example to follow. They provide us all life lessons that inspire.
My brother Vince is one of these people. A hero in a time where we desperately need more.
The Dream Chaser
Throughout our childhood, Vince always loved aviation. We went to many airshows over the years, taking in some great flying demonstrations with the Blue Angels, the Thunderbirds, and countless airshow acts through the years. His room, the garage, and later his house was full of radio controlled airplanes in various states of construction, storage, and even some awaiting repair (even the best scuff up their planes every now and then, must have been the wind or some radio interference).
So after college, caught in a soulless job that was decent enough. It paid the bills, but was not a passion. Vince didn’t play it safe, and decided to follow his dream to become an airline pilot. He finished flight school, built up flying time by instructing others, and then became an airline pilot and an example of following a dream and putting in the work.
I have a great job, and like what I do, but I can’t say it’s a passion. I never had the courage to really pursue something I loved. It’s never too late to begin a dream, and really admire those who made a courageous decision to follow a dream.
I miss my mom. We lost her to cancer back in 2012. She departed this existence at the age of 69, and touched so many people. She was an angel among us, always being upbeat and positive. She rarely complained about things, and always looked at the positive in others.
When she was sick, my biggest regret is that I didn’t travel to see her more. Mom and Dad lived within reason, but far enough away to make traveling something requiring planning, driving, and time off of work. Looking back, I’ll always regret not taking more time to see her before her death. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t think of her and miss her dearly.
A hero takes the time to care for others. Vince was there whenever not away from the house flying. If Dad was her right hand support, Vince was her left. Always there and helping out. Keeping Mom’s spirits higher in spite of her declining health. Heroes usually put the needs of others well ahead of their own. Vince was there for her when she really needed the love and support.
When Mom was sick, as we were in her room, just being with her, we started to share some of the family stories. Mostly centering around our dogs from when we were growing up, misadventures at school, some of the crazy things from around the neighborhood.
Vince is a good storyteller. And as we were with Mom, he spun out some of the family classics. The time mom decided a Superman costume with Groucho Marx glasses was a great idea, tales from school about getting in trouble with the nuns at St. Vincent’s, and time we were playing around with construction equipment for a new shopping center around the corner from our house (my personal favorite) just to name a few. How anyone never got hurt, or that the steamroller didn’t head into traffic with nobody at the controls, it was probably as much luck as anything. Again, you’ll have to get him to tell you all about it. As Vince retold the story for the countless time for everyone, and we all laughed just as much as the first telling, I saw Mom smiling. At this point, she wasn’t able to communicate very well, but she was soaking in the story one final time, and smiling along with us. His story gave her a moment of peace at the end.
I also admire his ability to not simply to tell these stories, but that they’re accurate, even after all these years. When our niece and nephew were growing up, they’d often ask him to tell the one. Not me, they asked Vince. He’s the official teller of most of our experiences growing up. This is heroic to me, because they keep memories alive and fresh. A dependable account of the family heritage. This is a vital role in families. I wonder how many stories are lost as we lose the older generations.
Heroes may be superhuman at times, and they may also perform feats of bravery and sacrifice that most of us couldn’t fathom. But heroes are all around us in our daily lives if we really look. And they can always provide great examples of courage and lessons in life. They’re the ones who sacrifice time, perform acts of love and kindness, and show others how to live through their examples. So to my brother Vince, you’re pretty damn heroic to me.
One thought on “My Brother the Hero”
What a GREAT story Tom. Made me cry. Lillian was a very SPECIAL LADY. I still miss her today. I was so thankful to be able to be with her when she died. She and quite a few more are in my thoughts & prayers every day. Much Love & prayers. Aunt Jeanie