I was thinking about heroes today, for a few different reasons. Heroes come in different shapes and sizes in our lives. If you follow Webster, the Word Dude, (which I DO…. like crazy) …. you will find that a hero is a person who is admired for courage. Or they are held in high esteem for their outstanding achievements…. or for their noble qualities.
In that case, I’ve had a few heroes in my life, for sure. One showed up on my doorstep this morning, to help me out of a jam. (Thanks, KH!)
As kids, we have heroes. But they are mostly people we idealize or people we want to emulate. I was remembering who those people were… the ones I looked up to. Most of them were male athletes, like Davey Concepcion, Joe Morgan, Mark Spitz. But this evening I saw an article on Babe Didrikson Zaharias.
And then it all came rushing back to me. I am not sure how old I was. But. The library had one book on her. I read that thing over and over again.
Her full name was Mildred Didrikson Zaharias and she was born on June 26, 1911, in Port Arthur, Texas. I’ve already mentioned her nickname, Babe.
She was a crazy-good-gifted athlete. I mean, freakishly good. And not in just one sport. She became one of history’s first female sports stars. BUT, she mastered everything from basketball and track and field to softball, tennis and even bowling.
She finished her career as an athlete as a golfer. She won an unprecedented 82 amateur and professional tournaments.
The thing that first caught my attention about her was a track meet in which she had competed. She took part in the U.S. women’s track and field championships. But here is the deal on this. She was the lone member of the Employers Casualty team.
So there she is going up against teams which fielded a dozen or more athletes. Babe took on eight events …. everything from the hurdles and the broad jump to the shot put and the discus throw.
I can remember the account in the book. She would finish one event and then have to run to starting line of another event. She ended up WINNING five events of the eight. That gave her the most points in the competition… and the championship. I mean, SHE was the winning TEAM.
I used to run around in our backyard like this. I would put a pole across the back of two lawn chairs for my hurdle. I’d pole vault off the push-broom handle. And I would hurl big rocks for the shot put. And on.
I absolutely could go on about her. Setting multiple records at the Olympics, kicking butt on the golf circuits, being the first woman to compete in the PGA, yadda.
Her life ended pretty abruptly though. She got colon cancer and died at age 45.
So yeah. Little girls back then didn’t have many girl heroes. I am glad that I just remembered this one.
As for the other heroes in our lives. Wow. What a thing. It could be a brother, or a parent or a friend. Who knows where or when we will meet them. A teacher, a colleague, or a cashier at the grocery store. They are the people who are outstanding in this world.
We know it, exactly when we see their heroics. They do what they do in an extraordinary way, because they lead with the love in their hearts. What an incredible thing. What a noble way.
I say thank you. With all my heart, to the very amazing heroes in my life. Oh to be… just like those amazing heroes among us.
“As you get older it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary.”
― Ernest Hemingway
“Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers they are graced with.”
― Brodi Ashton, Everneath
“In a room where
people unanimously maintain
a conspiracy of silence,
one word of truth
sounds like a pistol shot.”
― Czesław Miłosz