Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hero Stories



There is a scene in the luscious 1992 film, The Last of the Mohicans that, when I'm in the mood for a good cry and want to be swept away by the beauty of selfless heroic acts (like any normal person is), I pull it up on youtube and hit replay again and again.

This movie has one of the most epic endings you'll ever see, where a character named Uncas, playing the younger brother in the story, puts his life out there for the taking, to save a young girl, Alice, from being captured by the Huron tribe. Uncas doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of taking this entire band of brothers on as he fights them one by one along the edge of a massive, jagged, slippery waterfall cliff, but he's going to go down trying.

In less than four minutes, this scene has me jumping over the promontory, right after Uncas' tumble, crying, "Uncas! Uncas! Take me with yoooooooouuuuu!"

The thing about a hero is the powerful emotion they bring out in us as we see them override every bit of survival instinct we're born with and do what they have to do, because heroes can't not do anything.

Last night, after spending 20 minutes in a soul feeding cry over my Uncas, I sat in the dark living room, sobbing about pure and perfect love. Not the kind of love that movies try to push on us as real, but THIS kind: the kind that blows your heart out of your chest with doing anything to save someone -- and nothing in it for you. 

In between heaving gasps, for some reason, my mind reeled back to when my first baby was three-months-old.

He was a spring baby and we were out for an early evening walk. I would push him in his green stroller, explaining everything in the world to this baby --  the one I had waited for my entire life. We were on a bike trail and up ahead I saw a man walking a big dog, which he did not have on a leash, approaching from the opposite direction. I saw the dog startle suddenly, then head for us in bounding leaps, barking loudly, his eyes fixed on the green stroller. The one with my baby in it. I heard the man shout out his dog's name and he may as well have been screaming in a wind tunnel, his dog didn't hear a damn thing.

If there is anything that makes the hair prickle on my scalp and give me wobbly knees, it's a hound on the loose. I've been like that since a Great Dane knocked me flat on my back when I was seven-years-old. While I don't hate dogs, until proven otherwise, I am skittish around them.

Putting aside the terror of knowing that in less than three seconds there would be a bear of a dog that I was scared out of my gourd about, right at my feet, I jumped to the front of the stroller -- barely getting there before this canine did. With the dog howling furiously, I stepped in between him and the stroller, his nails scratching my legs. He growled deep in his throat, and that scared me more than the barking. The dog tried to get around me and at my stroller, and even though the man was still calling his name and trying to catch up to him, it wasn't fast enough for me. I was wearing clogs that day, and I pulled one off my foot and held it in my shaking hand until that perfect moment when the barking dog's jaws were as open as they could be, and I plunged my shoe into his mouth, in full combat assault.

Crazy, I know. The owner thought so, too. I knew the dog could've bitten some nasty holes into my quaking hand with those long teeth of his but I had to risk it. It's not that I transcended all fear or didn't care about pain -- believe me, I was light-headed from being so scared -- but he wasn't getting at my baby.

I hadn't thought about this day in years, and it made me think of how we -- how all of us out here -- have had moments of cape-wearing epicness where we toss aside our risk of injury to save another.

When my son woke up this morning, I told him this story. He had no idea that I had once been his Uncas, taking on that Huron tribe one by one along the precipice for him. It felt good to tell my tale and to hear myself say it.

So very many times in our lives, we recall our failures, our less than stellar moments, the times we wimp out instead of standing up. But we let the memory of our heroic acts fall away into some abyss, as if they were not the spectacular things that they are.




While I love this scene here from The Last of the Mohicans, today I want to hear your hero stories, because I'm a sucker for bawling my eyes out from the clear beauty of moments where we're larger than life.

Would you gift me with your hero story? Either a paragraph in comments, or write up your hero moment on your blog and come back and leave me the link?

From what I know and have seen of all of you, I'm positive you've got some four-hankie-tales from the prize archives of your beautiful lives.

I would be so honored to learn more about you; let me get swept away by your retelling of that brilliant time you took on that tribe along a cliff.

Thank you.

53 comments:

  1. You brave, brave soul. And oh, that scene from the Mohicans. It made me cry then, it made me cry watching it again.

    I don't have any hero stories of my own, alas. Maybe someday, my children will tell me about a time when I was a hero to them.

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    1. Sweet A? I want to sit and watch this movie with you. I am in a house full of testosterone, like you.

      xo

      Delete
  2. huh, will have to think up a good one to beat saving a baby with a clog....let me give it some thought and i will come back shortly....smiles

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    1. B, even when I'm serious you still make me laugh a good laugh.

      Yes, the day I beat a dog away with my fashion clogs.

      You're so great...

      Delete
  3. That is really amazing. I'm pretty sure I'm no one's hero but maybe I will be someday. I love that movie too!

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    1. This is my point: we undersell ourselves.

      I AM SURE YOU'VE BEEN A HERO.

      Delete
  4. Wow, what a question, babe. You're right, I can name all my major failures in a heartbeat but am sitting here scratching my head searching for my hero moments...

    OK, how's this: When my Dad was in the hospital, for the last time, before they sent him home to die, my mom & I were alone with him in the ICU room when he suddenly decided he HAD to go pee & went to stand up & leave the bed to do it. At this point he had a direct blood pressure monitor in an open incision in an artery, as they were so concerned he was going to crash again. Well, when he tried to stand up (a feat the staff assured us was impossible) he ripped the probe out - and blood started spurting everywhere.

    I was a few feet away from him when this started and leaped toward him. Couldn't stop him from trying to stand but was able to push him back onto the bed and apply pressure to the bleeding out artery to staunch the flow while yelling for the staff to come rescue my Dad. Then when they came I had to help as both the doctor & the nurse were needed to work on him so it was up to me to hold his hands up above his head and keep him from clawing at the people trying to save his life. He was screaming "Please make them stop, it hurts!" and I had to hold him still, nonetheless, trying to soothe him while crying my eyes out. Yeah I guess that was a hero day.

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    1. Oh, Varda: how you made me cry.

      GOOD HOT TEARS.

      Thank you.

      Delete
  5. Who gives a sh*t about that effin' dog owner? You needed to protect yourself and more importantly, your baby. After shoving a shoe in its mouth, I would have taken my keys and jabbed his eyes out too.
    My story: When we lived in the City, we had a fenced in courtyard. I would let Johnny play there but I always watched from the window. One day, a man, running from police, jumped the fence in order to get away. I was thinking he was after Johnny. So I ran out and beat him with a BigWheel. At that point, I heard the police yelling to me to hold him. So I did. He never jumped my fence again.
    m.

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    1. You are easy to love, M.

      On my way to catch up with you.

      THANK YOU FOR YOUR STORY. I can see your face in it.

      Delete
  6. The Last of the Mohicans is one of my favorite movies and that scene gets me every time too.

    The story of your son and the dog is one so many women can relate too. And I loved that you used your shoe...

    One of biggest flaws is that I focus on my short comings rather than on my accomplishments. And so I am guilty of filing away the few hero stories I have. But I would love to share one with you...so I'll be back :)

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    1. You, woman, have so much evidence of the heroic acts you've pulled out for your son.

      Thank you.

      Delete
  7. LOTM is a great movie. I don't know that it's a hero moment, but those protective juices certainly got flowing during the experience I wrote about here, complete with LOTM references:

    http://raisedbymydaughter.blogspot.com/2012/04/stay-alive-i-will-find-you.html

    Also, did I mention that LOTM is a beautiful movie? I love those scenes on the cliffs and with the waterfall.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Isn't it just??? On my way, and how I adore a fellow TLOM lover.

      Delete
  8. Not a traditional heoric tale laced with archetype, but...

    I did poop my pants and write about it. As an adult.

    I submit to you that this is heroic.

    Here's the story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And DJP? I canNOT wait to read it. Thx.

      Delete
  9. my favorite movie EVER!!!! and I love this story. i never heard it before. reminds me of the time we were going to fight off that old man with the rifle.

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    1. ohmygosh, you just made me laugh out loud.

      REMEMBER??? He was all overalled and hopping out of his rustbucket pickup truck and we were going crazy running away with our babies in our arms.

      Good times. GOOD TIMES.

      i love you, honey.

      Delete
  10. WHoa. I love how fierce you are. Fast thinking with the clog. Really smart. Beats trying to bite the darn dog, which I might have tried. Going to have to think if I've ever been a hero...

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  11. Hmmm...I think you are looking for something beyond when I am able to pick the desired mystery minifigures by feeling the bags. Sadly, I don't think I have anything.

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  12. I love, love, love this post. I need some time to come up with my Uncas memory.

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  13. i'll NEVER forget it. he drove up over the embankment and down the hill right at us with jean overalls in a pick up truck and jumped out of it and ran toward us. we each grabbed a baby and RAN!!!!!!!!

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    1. Oh my gah! Girl, why don't we have a book. There are SO many stories.

      I miss you.

      Delete
  14. First, I loved your story. Second, you're so right. It is so hard to recall our hero moments at will. You should consider hosting a feature....

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    1. Ah, wonderful Poppy of the ever faithful: like most things in my life, I'd love to...but what does "hosting a feature" mean.

      Wish I were kidding.

      Anything good that has happened to me online is nothing short of a miracle and just dang lucky.

      xo

      Delete
  15. Oh my God...I got goosebumps reading how brave you are, mama! That's your mama bear mode on and I salute you. Shows you right there what a super power a mom can whip out in times of needs. I can't recall being as brave as you are other then fighting with a Korean non-english speaking manager at the airport here when he loudly pointing at my crying boy (he was only 8 months at the time) telling the ground staff "No, no, no!" just before we board our flight going back to the States. I came up straight to him, look him fiercely in the eyes and asked what the hell was his problem? He can talk to me not pointing my baby like that. The ground crew explained that the manager won't let us board the plane if my son was still crying. Told them oh hell no, we are bound to board that plane come hell and high water! Plus it was 10pm, way passed my baby's bedtime. Sure enough, once we boarded, my tired little boy fell asleep hahaha. Not as brave as your experience ;) Thanks for sharing your story, dearest Empress.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Alrighty. I was hoping to just conduct a strategic strike over here, take in some Alexandra greatness, and be on my merry way.

    But no. I leave feeling inadequate in light of the fact that:

    (1) I have no heroes to speak of. Unless you count Cabernet Sauvignon.
    (2) I have yet to see The Last of the Mohicans.

    ps - I did unclog a toilet this morning. Surely that counts for something, yes?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Unclogging a toilet? I hear the Superman theme playing as we speak.

      Delete
  17. UNCAS!!
    We don't recall our cape wearing moments often enough, you're right.
    Is it wrong to think of getting out of bed as a hero moment? Because there were times when it felt like it.

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    1. Somedays, just telling yourself you WILL make it through today, even if you have to say it hour by hour, is the biggest superhero there is.

      Love you, Jenni.

      Delete
  18. UNCAS!!
    You're right, we don't recall our cape wearing moments often enough.
    Is it wrong for me to think of just getting out of bed as heroic? Because there were times when it felt like it.

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  19. That damned Wes Studi is always killing people off. I'm kind of with Sue-The Spin Cycle, I have no heroic tales unless you count taking a needle in my spine to give birth. I love your passion though!

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  20. Three years ago my husband got injured on the job, six months later, he was laid off and we lost our health insurance, two years ago he started getting nosebleeds but no one could figure out why, 6 months later he goes into renal failure laying next to me in bed. He stays in critical care for a month and I have to make the decision to let him go.

    That was just last year. I lost my husband, then we lost our home, my 19 yr old daughter just had a baby that I am helping to raise and support and I recently found out I will be laid off after 15 years at the end of this month. I have been looking for work but since we have the huge medical bills from my Husband's care and we had to let our home go, my credit is preventing me from finding anything decent at the moment.

    At this particular moment, my heroism consists of plodding forward each day for the sake of my two daughters and my brand new graddaughter.

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    1. That is heroic indeed: with your will to keep on going, others will find their strength.

      I know.

      GOOD LUCK and all my best to you at this time. I know your new baby granddaughter will be the wind in your sails these days...

      Delete
  21. My grandparents and my aunt and uncle use to work on movie sets, and -prepare to have your mind grapes blown- they worked on Last of the Mohicans. My grandpa drove Daniel Day Lewis up the mountain every day for shooting. Anyhoozle, my hero story: I kind of, sort of saved my dad's life when I was eight. We were home alone with him, and he started choking. I ran across the street to get our neighbor, who did the Heimlich on my dad. I still remember how wobbly my legs felt and how terrified I was on the run over there.

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    1. NO WAY.

      I just read this to my two teen sons and they couldn't believe it...HOW COOL.

      Delete
  22. I love this post so much. Thank you for inspiring me to write tonight. I didn't put my life on the line but I will never forget sitting with a very young boy, holding his hand and shaking in my boots as a brand new advocate as HE did the bravest thing I ever seen anyone do. He testified against his abuser and looked him right in the eye. Ten years old. And for some reason this post made me go right to it in my memory. Thank you for that. I'll let you know if it blossoms into a post.

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    1. Please do write it up? And let me know of it when it's published.

      I love stories of the HUMAN POWERFUL SPIRIT in all of us.

      Delete
  23. Oh my. I don't think I better read these comments right now, or I will cry big bloody tears in my cube. But you are definitely a HERO!

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  24. What a beautiful post! I better not read these comments right now or I will cry ugly tears, but thank you for sharing such a brave story!

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    1. Thank you, Amber, I hope you write a post on the subject, and let me know about it here: I mean it when I say I love to read about people going beyond what they thought they ever could.

      I really do.

      Delete
  25. I am way too emotional to watch that clip right now so I'll just settle for tearing up over your story.

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    1. Oh, Lady Jennie: how lucky I am to have found you.

      Delete
  26. You are welcome to swim in the sea of estrogen at my house as we weep over The Last of the Mohicans. I love that movie!

    My last heroic moment was grabbing the toddler before she tumbled off a stool. She is bound and determined to test her physical strength and my fear as she climbs all.the.things in our house.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Beautiful, Alexandra. I'm not sure I have anything that comes close to this but I'll think it over. A mother's love for her child comes above anything else, eh?

    I think I'm the only one in the world who hasn't seen this movie. Thanks for ruining the ending. KIDDING! :p I'll add it to my list, momma. Miss you. XOXO

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  28. I have been in a bit of a funk as my daughter turned 18 yesterday and I think of this being her last year of high school and being home with us. Every year at this time I think back to the 2 months I spent in the hospital to carry her close to term. It certainly didn't feel heroic, but it was one of the hardest things I have ever done-completely giving up control and living as a larvae! I loved your post and now my funk is lifting:)

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    1. Oh Aprilmay: how I wish I could find a way to email you.

      See, your hero moment reminds me of all that I have done.

      I was on bedrest, too, with all my children. From 31 wks to 36 wks with number one, and then from 17 wks to 35 wks with my middle, the third one was only 4 wks.

      INCREDIBLE.

      Yes, bedrest is a HUGE heroic act.

      Aprilmay: if you can email me, would you???

      xo

      Delete
  29. I feel exactly and I mean exactly the way you do about dogs. Just the other day as I was taking a walk with my daughter, who is 11, and her best friend, also 11, we saw a giant dog running right toward us. No owner, no leash, just a dog who got out of his yard and was out to do something bad - it seemed. The girls screamed and I had to go into action. Me, who is skittish about dogs!!! I yelled at him with my loudest voice and told him to GO HOME. He came right up to me, jumped on me and I kept yelling and you know what - he finally listened. I had to yell at him numerous more times to get him to stay in his front yard (I'm sure he didn't once we were out of sight) but as we walked away my daughter said, "wow, Mom, you were like the dog whisperer. I've never seen you do that." She had no idea I had practically wet my pants in fear. But hey, what else would I have done. Thanks for the great post.

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    1. Listen...do you hear it?

      It's the theme of Rocky playing just for you.

      The things we will do, no thinking it through, just doing.

      All of us. Every one of us.

      What a pleasure to meet you!!! LOVED LOVED LOVED your film trailer on "Lost in Living."

      Thank you so much for this labor of love, where we can find community in the confessional.

      Delete
  30. I keep thinking about you wrote above, about moments that make us feel heroic, and I'm marinating. Because immediately something came to mind I never think about. Something I'd never classify as heroic, but it changed lives forever in beautiful ways. It changed mine. It's no shoe sacrifice, but it's something. A post is stewing. I'll let you know where it goes. I helped people who'd looked for one another for almost seven decades find each other. And I've done it twice since for others. If anyone ever wants that sort of help, I would do it for free every day for the rest of my life. Except those people, those who asked me to help them solve their mysteries, they're the heroes. I'm just a writer who thinks the truth is stranger than fiction and wants to find people to find endings to their beginnings.

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  31. Nice article. very interesting, thanks for sharing.

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