I like the concept of “unsung heroes” — people who don’t usually get praise or attention but whose quiet courage is an inspiration. So today I’m going to sing (metaphorically: you don’t have to listen to me slaughtering a tune) the praises of a few of my heroes. Not specific individuals, but rather five groups of people whose bravery has impressed me recently.
1. My students. I’ve said this before, but I can’t say it often enough. My students — young adults who dropped out of school for a variety of reasons and are now returning to get their diplomas — are my absolute heroes. Every day I get glimpses into the issues they have to grapple with before they even get out the door to get to school in the morning. Just for showing up, they deserve a million gold stars.
2. People on methadone. Lately it seems that every time I go to my corner Shopper’s Drug Mart, especially if I have to wait for a prescription, I see several people arriving to get their methadone. Some sidle up quietly as if they want privacy; others announce what they’re there for and carry on loud, joky conversations with the pharmacist so the whole world knows. I first encountered this phenomenon at my drugstore about a year ago and blogged about it then, but now it seems to be much more prevalent — maybe just because this is sort of an inner-city neighbourhood. Anytime I see one of these people, I am in awe of their courage as they attempt to make the huge step of breaking free of drug addiction. God bless them and may the provincial government do even more to provide treatment options for addicts.
3. Single parents. I’m always amazed by anyone who parents solo. I realize people don’t usually choose to be single parents but there’s an element of “grace under pressure” in doing the best parenting job you can without a partner. Earlier this week Jason and I attended a parenting seminar at church and the pastor asked us what we felt our greatest strength was as a parent. My humble and self-doubting husband said he couldn’t think of one off the top of his head. Humility and self-doubt not being two of my qualities, I thought of a long list, but finally settled on saying that Jason was my greatest asset as a parent, because we work so well as a team. Then I thought of some of the parents present who were doing the job alone and again I was awed, because they don’t have that asset of someone to hand the kids off to, someone to share the worries, someone to step in when you get a little crazy. I love raising kids, but it is a job that ranges from difficult to impossible even with two qualified people running it — so my hat is off to those who have to do it alone.
4. Old folks in motion. Every time I go to the indoor track to walk in winter there’s at least a few of these people teetering around the track — the old, the stiff, the arthritic who are still getting out and exercising. Today it was a little old guy hobbling around the inside track leaning on his cane. Even for the young and able-bodied, it’s such an easy temptation to just stay inside on the couch, especially in winter. But no, these old folks are getting out and keeping their bodies moving. I see them at the pool too, and every time I do I just want to cheer. Good for them! Hope I’m still getting out and moving when I’m their age.
5. A bunch of real estate agents. Not just any bunch, but a specific bunch, although I don’t know their names or what company they work for. Over the last few weeks I have been working with some other parents from my children’s school, and some people from church, to set up a breakfast program at the school to meet the needs of the many kids from lower-income families whose parents can’t always afford to feed them a good breakfast. In the course of one of our conversations about this I learned that at another inner-city school here in St. John’s, there’s a breakfast program being run by a group of real estate agents. I mean not just funded, but run — they come in and serve breakfast to the kids. This just made me smile and smile. I mean, you kind of expect it from a church group — in fact, if church people aren’t feeding the hungry, you kind of wonder what we’re at, right? But a bunch of business people? Real estate agents? That’s just sheer, unconditional goodness, and I totally applaud that.
So, those are some of my heroes. Who are yours? Who have you seen lately that deserves a hearty round of applause for their efforts?