By Lisa Whaley
I’ve been thinking about heroes a lot lately; not the ones we normally envision when the word comes to mind – such as the firefighter, soldier, and police officer who often put their lives on the line to save others.
Instead, I’ve been thinking about the quiet heroes we encounter every day.
The idea came to mind during a recent visit to check on my mom, who lives way too far away from me and has been struggling with many health issues these past few years. The visit was a difficult one, marked with occasional sprinkles of pure sweetness and blessing, as we tried to get her settled into the best place to meet her needs.
It was there I met Shelly. An employee at Eagles Springs, the memory care facility that is my mom’s new home, she swept into the room filled with a contagious energy and an abundance of love. She plopped herself on the seat of mom’s walker and said, “Come on Arlene, let’s get your exercise for the day. Let’s race down the hallway.” My mom, who had been through so much in the past couple of weeks, laughed delightedly, her face filled with joy as Shelly hugged her tight and loved on her some more.
That sound of laughter was one of the most precious things I had heard for a very long time. It also opened my eyes, in a way, and I began to notice more heroes, like Shelly, making huge differences with little fanfare.
I saw the mother holding onto the hand of her child, now grown but never really growing up, with the same love and patience as when that child was a toddler.
I saw the wife, walking closely beside her ailing husband, meeting each challenge with the love, strength and dignity she knows he needs to continue.
I saw the friend, taking time to truly listen, then willingly stepping out with tangible help and encouragement.
And I saw the husband, once again at Eagle Springs, arriving faithfully each and every day for each and every meal, to sit with his wife, who could no longer remember all the details of their life together.
I saw him take her hand.
Today I want to sing out for the unsung – the men, women and even children – who are currently in the trenches, faithfully doing more than what is expected simply because they see the need and can’t turn away.
They too are our heroes. And I would shudder to be in this world without them.