The very word conjures up images of masked figures draped in capes, swooping down through the sky to rescue some hapless soul from imminent danger.
The list is as endless as the number of dollars paid to create the cinematic empires they inhabit. I'd be lying if I said I didn't even once wish I could swirl around, create a cloud of smoke, and emerge with superhuman strength. Boy, could I have knocked out a few problems in life that way!
Throughout the years my heroes have traded places and faces. In my younger years, my first heroes were the members of my own family -- my incredibly patient mom, my rock-steady dad, my indomitable older sister, my grandma ...
These were my role models.
The people I aspired to emulate in life.
The ones whose qualities I wanted to acquire.
My horizons broadened when I began school. New stories and new lessons introduced me to new heroes.
George Washington Carver.
I admired their courage in the face of adversity, their indomitable determination, their willingness to struggle onward and upward when all odds were stacked against them. I inhaled their stories and drew strength from their spirit. They gave me the courage to conquer my own obstacles and run my own race.
Now, as I stand midway between youth and old age, I have the privilege of finding heroes on either side. There are those who have walked before me and those who are now stepping up behind me.
Of late, there is one who has risen to surpass them all.
And I don't say this just to voice the strong maternal exuberance that swells up in my chest.
I say this because I have watched in wonder as he has grown from a wounded boy to an amazing, big-hearted man, who walks with integrity.
He buys pizza for the homeless and high-fives the outcasts, because he has walked in their shoes.
He is gentle with the sick and the elderly, because he knows how fragile life is.
He looks out for the foster kids and orphans, because he was once one himself.
He gives, and asks for nothing in return except your honest friendship, because he understands the value of a true friend.
This kid has grappled with the worst life can throw out there ... and still smiles at the end of each day.
No matter how hard life has been and no matter how many curve balls have knocked him flat, he never caves.
He never buckles.
He gets up,
dusts himself off,
turns on his mega-watt smile,
and tries again.
And again and again.
Now he faces down the one thing that has eluded him all these years.
When Quinn was about ten or eleven, my uncle took us up in his Grumman for an afternoon flight. As we soared through the clouds, Quinn could barely contain his excitement. He was hooked. I could see it in the way his eyes sparkled when we landed, the way he wiggled in his seat, and bounced out of the cockpit. For me it was a nice little spin in the sky. For him, it was a rendezvous with destiny. From then on his favorite boyhood haunt was atop a hill a half-mile from my parents home in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he had a clear view of the planes taking off and landing at the Oakland Airport not too far away.
"Someday," he promised himself, "I will fly too."
The road towards his goal has not been an easy one. He first had to rid himself of a few demons and scale some formidable road-blocks, but his dedication to that solitary goal has never wavered. To date he has worked for and invested nearly $20,000 towards its completion. He has $40,000 still to go.
Recently he called me to tell me he had started a GoFundMe page to help narrow the gap between where he stands today and the culmination of his flight training quest. He seemed a little shy about inviting others to help him. He's always been the giver, and understandably feels as though his shoes are on the wrong feet to be in the "asking" position. He wondered aloud if ... if ... anyone ... would donate.
I know I will!
Not just because he's my son (and that's what moms are supposed to do).
Not just because I know his story.
Not just because he has dreamed about this for so long.
But because he was worked harder to reach where he is than many people ever will.
I can't tell you how much I admire that.
My son is my hero and he is going to not only fly,
If you would like to join us in helping him get his wings, please click on the GoFundMe link at the top right of this page.