Hero is a word that I believe is used way to often today. Football players, Baseball players, and other athletes are often referred to as heroes. In my opinion they aren’t. According to Webster a hero is a:
a) legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength
b) an illustrious warrior
c) a person admired for achievements and noble qualities
d) one who shows great courage
When looked at with this definition ball players and pop culture figures typically fall short.
In the 1940’s Super Man was the definition of a Hero. “Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! Although this may be the iconic definition of a hero or even a super hero, I believe heroes are much more human. I believe they are living amongst us, in our neighborhoods, they attend churches with us, and we run into them every day.
I’ve had the same hero for a long time. When you look at the above definition my hero is legendary in his desire and willingness to do whatever it takes to help his tribe. He will fight harder than anybody I know for his tribe, truly fights harder than the third monkey on the ramp. The previously mentioned are the noblest of qualities, and the man has always shown great courage in the face of adversity.
My hero has always been my Dad. It might sound a little like a cliché but my father is and has been my hero for a long time. To understand why you need to get to know my dad a little. Born in Steubenville, OH in 1939 the son and George and Helen Castner, my father was born into coal mining poverty. The 7th sibling, of an eventual 8, my father never really talks about his childhood, he never shared great memories of family holidays, or family trips, or family get togethers. I’d learn of my dad’s childhood by hearing stories from uncles or family friends that knew what his early life was like. My Godfather and probably closest uncle Calvin would share the most. Although I don’t remember details uncle Cal would share stories of Christmas without toys, moving a lot because they couldn’t pay the rent, and poverty that someone like myself can only imagine. I am sure it is this tough childhood that created the tough as nails, loving father that is my dad. I never knew my grandfather on my dad’s side, I am sure a hard life style filled with alcohol, coal dust, and tough living took its toll and he tapped out early. I do believe that this poverty and a no choice but do what it takes to survive gave my dad and his siblings the characteristics that created his hero status in my heart.
Although my father wasn’t one to have a lot of formal education until later in life, he is one of the smartest men I know. As a kid it wasn’t uncommon to have 3 newspapers in the house every weekday and on weekends that number could jump to 5 – 7. He read them cover to cover. The 2 smartest guys I remember as a kid where my dad, who I believe was the first in the family to go to high school and his brother Calvin he finished school at grade 6.
From very early on in life I remember my father as coach and protector. He firmly believed that each generation had a responsibility to do better than the previous. Education is what he believed and I assume still does is the key to this. Let me give you an examples of what lengths this man will go to help his kids. Forgive me Greg but this is one of my favorites. My brother was having a little trouble in college with a class. Knowing that the issue was a matter of applying oneself and nothing else, unbeknownst to my brother my father enrolled in the class Greg was having trouble with. Like Rodney Dangerfield heading back to school my dad enrolled in a single class to make sure my brother got through it. I would have loved to see my brothers face when he showed up for class the first day. As a parent, I am not sure I’d do that for my kids. But I am sure there wasn’t a single ounce of doubt in my father’s decision to do it.
To this day it is amazing to see the lengths he will go to help with me, my brother, or my sister. The love and devotion even goes further when it comes to his grandkids. I truly believe there isn’t a thing he would do to assist any of us.
Monday morning while speaking to my mother, I was discussing the fact that my hair started falling out, and I was surprised that it just started happening with out any event or warning. While I was speaking with my mother after my procedure, a picture came across my phone. Much to my surprise and enjoyment it was a picture of my father, with a shaved head. We didn’t discuss it, he didn’t mention that he was going to do it, just a little gesture of support of son going through a difficult time. Much to my surprise he pulls the look off pretty well.
The support is incredible. You have to know my dad to appreciate the fact that he shaved his head. My guess is it isn’t something he ever thought he was going to do and it is much appreciated. It just goes to show you that you can never grow to old for a father’s love and a father’s love will never grow to old for a son.
Thanks a bunch Dad! I don’t say it enough but I love and appreciate all you do. The most amazing thing is I can’t believe you talked Chrissy and Jules to get on the bald bandwagon 🙂