Wednesday, January 18, 2017

I Believe In Super Heroes

When I was six years old, my brothers and I often tugged towels off my mother’s clothes line and pinned them around our necks. Something marvelous happened as the tattered terry cloth draped down our backs. We became more than tow-headed children. We transformed into Super Man, Batman, and Captain Marvel. Our shoulders straightened, our demeanor grew noble, our fists found their way, in classic hero style, to rest on our skinny hips. Then, with impromptu capes streaming behind us, we raced off to save the world as super heroes.

As I grew older, I discovered a bitter truth—super heroes only lived in books and on the movie screen. They didn’t soar through the clouds and swoop down to rescue hapless civilians. They couldn’t stop wars, save humanity, or even pluck kittens from treetops. I stopped raiding the clothes line for capes. I stopped believing in super heroes.

More years passed, and I grew into adulthood. Children of my own came into my life as wee babes. As I cradled them in my arms, images of my magical childhood flickered in their blue eyes. I envisioned them racing across green pastures with homemade capes streaming behind them. However, life had a different plan.

We soon learned they carried a special gene, a mutated bit of DNA smuggled into their X chromosomes. They were disabled. There was no running, wild and free. There were no capes, no victories, and no magic. There were no heroes.

Instead, I saw a world full of villains who would mock and bully my special ones, Jokers who would torment and Lex Luthers who would apply cruel kryptonite. The world looked dark, and I cowered behind my fear.

But then, magic and wonder crept back into my world in the form of a teacher who spent hours at home each week hand-making greeting cards to mail to my son to help him learn his name. She didn’t wear colorful spandex or stand like a mighty warrior. Instead, she sported a bouffant hair style and dangling ear rings.

Neighbors and friends showed up with hugs and babysitting help. Siblings and grandparents rallied. Therapists and educators spent years teaching my sons to walk, eat, and function. More time passed and an amazing young woman escorted my sons to proms, parties, and school events. This led to friends who took them to movies where they all watched Iron Man and Captain America join with Thor and the Hulk to save the world from evil and death.

However, the greatest saving didn’t happen on the screen. It happened in real life. It happened a little bit at a time, person by person, as living heroes flowed into and out of our lives. None of them wore uniforms or leaped tall buildings in a single bound. None of them were bullet proof. None of them could fly. But in my mind’s eye, I see capes flowing behind every one of them, because I believe in super heroes. They are real. They love and serve and give, and yes, they save the world.

I believe in real-life super heroes.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Love Letter: Indoor Plumbing

Dear Indoor Plumbing,
I adore you from your underground pipes that rush water to my tap—to your outgoing drains that take away my cra… (clears throat) waste.

I love your shower when it’s melt-the-grease-off-me hot. You are always there when I send the kids to the pot. You help me wash my hair and scrub my pits, you even help me clear up zits.

You only failed me now and then, like when the kids used you as a garbage bin. We took off the toilet and cleaned out your plumbing. (Although, your smell then was particularly numbing.)

I abandoned you when we went out camping, but during the night I had to go tramping…away to the outhouse where creatures could lurk, and where I could hear my business go splurt.

There was no fresh water to spruce up the dishes, just me staring at a boatload of fishes. I scraped off their scales and scooped out the innards, but without you the clean-up was worse than my dinner.

When we returned home, I danced in the kitchen. I jigged in the bathroom. I garbage-disposaled some chicken. I hugged the hot water heater. I put a bow on the flusher. I ran through the house singing an ode to my washer. If you were a man, I would kiss you with passion, but since you are not, I’ll keep up your fashion. From Kohler to Kraus, I’ll update your look, so that when visitors come, they too will be hooked.

Then everyone will praise you throughout the whole land, but always remember, I am your true, biggest fan.

Your flushing…(clears throat) blushing love,

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Ride 'em Cowgirl

Growing up, I always wanted a horse. The thought of galloping through the fields astride a mighty warhorse stirred my imagination. With a gallant steed, I could be like the heroes of old. I could win battles, earn glory—have adventures that didn’t involve doing dishes or babysitting. (Yes, I was the poster child for tomboys. That’s what happens when you grow up with four brothers.) However, I had one large problem. We owned cows, not horses.

Throughout history cows haven’t been known as mighty steeds. You don’t read stories where fair maidens or manly warriors leap onto their milk cows and plod off to battle. No. Cows are boring. They eat, chew cud, create cow pies, and get milked. They don’t have adventures. At least they usually don’t.

However, one day I decided if I couldn’t ride a horse, I would ride our cow, Babe. She was a pretty thing, tall and splendidly spotted. And, if she wasn’t quite shaped like a horse, I could pretend. I was good at pretending. So, I strode out to the field and clambered onto her back.

Babe did not like that. She did not like that at all. She went from being a docile cud-chewing mound of bovine into a powerful charging demon in one quickly belted, “Moo!”

We flew across the pasture. We soared over irrigation ditches. We careened toward the pear tree where I learned a very valuable lesson about cows. They don’t come equipped with brakes.
I hit the outstretched branches of that tree at full-cow speed. Babe, who fit nicely under the tree, kept running. I bounced off the branch and splatted on the ground, nearly as flat as one of the nearby cow pies.

That was the first and last time I rode a cow, but I didn’t quit wishing for my mighty steed. Even trees and splats can’t stop dreams. 


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