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Rated: E · Non-fiction · Inspirational · #1308683
Five real life heroes lead a man to seek certain truths NOW WITH A 2014 UPDATE & NEW PICS
NOTE: I wrote this almost seven years ago. I've decided to add an update on these heroes and where they or their memories are. They are bracketed.

I've lived over 55 years, and have probably seen and felt more than my share of things people feel and see. I am sure this is the result of having been a police officer in the seventies and eighties. During that time, as expected, I saw the worst of the worst. But I also saw heroism and courage and strength. Three qualities that form a powerful truth of life: that men and women can stand against any element with grace and dignity if they so choose. Come what may, they remain, and forge ahead with their lives. I encountered a number of such people, and have written of many.

Yet within my own family - and I admit probably because it was more intensely personal - I can safely say there are five people who have displayed those very attributes. These five people cast a light of truth for me at a time when I may have needed it most.

Recently, my brother-in-law and good friend buried his wife after a lengthy, torturous battle with cancer. He faces the rest of his life with the challenge of raising a son, now eleven years old. He doesn't know it, nor would he even acknowledge it, but he is a hero. The nobility, the courage and love he displayed during his wife's slow withdrawal from life was remarkable and I've no doubt his son, though devastated, will become stronger thanks to the continuing efforts of his father. ( My brother-in-law steadfastly moves forward. His eleven-year-old son in 2007, now eighteen and graduated high school, is a remarkable and soulful musician )

In July of 2007, my niece delivered a beautiful still-born baby boy. The tragedy was completely unexpected and joy turned to immense grief. Still, she weathered the horror of delivering the child, knowing he was already dead. The courage she displayed while she endured life's most intense pain physically, combined with the worst of emotional pain - grief in knowing the child was not alive - and the severe mental anguish, defies human comprehension. Rather than retreat into the darkness of depression, she, with true grace, still offers encouragement to everyone she meets, even to those who send her condolences. ( My niece remains full of life and is now the mother of two, one less than a month. Though she never looked back, it is clear her joy and thanks for those two gifts are magnified. She has never been happier. )

In April of the same year, the most courageous, hopeful and positive woman I have ever known passed from this life in her sleep after months of hourly agony, yet another victim of cancer.

Many believe our health care system, hopefully unintentionally, promotes treatments that result in a life of agony, rather than a return to a life of quality, free of the disease entirely. My mom was actually told the resources available to her were there because the goal was ultimately profit, and not eradication of the scourge.

She realized, as a result, there was nothing she could do but watch us watch her suffer. The grace and reassurance she gave us was astounding. She blamed no one, accepted her fate, made her arrangements and faced her death by sharing stories of love: her own personal memories that made her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren so special. The most remarkable aspect of the entire affair was how she managed to keep the spark and kindness in her eyes, no matter the pain.

"How can you do this, Momma?" One of my sisters asked on Mom's last day. "How can you smile and offer us solace with such a vast darkness approaching?"

My mother said only, "Because there is not a darkness. Not to me. Not in front, not behind. I'm surrounded by light on this side and there. Those who love me are in both places."

Within hours she passed, to the tremendous sorrow of us all. ( She is certainly not forgotten and remains for me the source of many pleasant memories, not the least of which are those times when she, without one ounce of criticism in her voice would say, "You can do it." )

Ten years ago, as mentioned in several of my previous works, my father and then 21-year-old son died within days of each other. The first was expected. The death of my son was not. Both were good men. One lived a life against the odds, was a child of the Great Depression, born with a condition which experts said would only allow him to reach the age of twenty one. Yet, he somehow managed a life of hard work for his full three score and ten.

The other left this life with fifty years yet promised, tossed aside because a governmental agency determined the proper dose of a prescription pain medication; when it killed those who were allergic, was within allowable limits. My son was an allowable limit, and would have been 31-years-old had he been otherwise.

My father was barely five-feet and five-inches in height, but remains to this day the tallest man I have ever known. He once stood against an F-4 tornado that destroyed much of Dallas, Texas in 1957 to give my mother and me, then others time to find safety in a church basement across the street from our Polk Street home in the Oak Cliff section. While a panic caused an unfortunate few to be trampled, he braved the storm of the century - at that time - to calm the crowd and lead the weak to safety as the monster selectively wiped out houses, trees, and people. He found us minutes later to his great relief, completely unconcerned that two nails, and several large splinters were embedded in his face, back and chest. Even though I was not quite five, it remains my most vivid memory.

Dad was a hard working, hard hitting, "honky-tonk" man and told me on my first day as a rookie street cop, "Son, if you feel it coming, you gotta strike first and strike hard. Then you have to give it all you can and don't let up. Do that and you'll make it." ( His advice, still sound remains a creed in so many different ways. He stands tall still. )

I lived that creed for over thirty years as a cop and a businessman. I passed my dad's measure of a man on to my son, Jerry, and he caught the spirit of it. If he saw "it" coming - and for him the "it" was a new friend - he hit them first with a smile and hit with it hard. Then he left no stone unturned in cultivating that friendship. Over 200 people mourned him as if he were the very best friend life could have offered. He was an artist of sketches, oil paintings and storyboards.

He taught me far more than I ever taught him. ( I am still learning from my son. His smile arrives at times when I need to smile at others to reassure them. His value of friendships help me reach out, rather than recoil and what was important to him, things I never knew, surfaces at times when I need it most. )

The deaths of my father and son waylaid me for awhile, but eventually when I thought of them, I remembered all that was good about them; and now I smile when they come calling in memory.

It has helped me with the loss of my mom.

My mom, my dad, my son, my brother-in-law and my niece have all taught the meaning of resilience and strength. For me that resulted in a real truth. These five people were/are remarkable and to me, will remain examples of the best our world can offer.

So to Mom, Dad, Jerry, Les and Kassi, I thank you with tears of new found strength, for the great gift of helping me want to be a better man, father and grandfather for those special to me, those I love.

That includes my remaining children - all adults now.

It also and especially includes my grandchildren. As recorded in other writings, our babies may well be our best teachers of life and lessons, by demonstrating simple innocence, unconditional love, and infinite trust. ( Eight grandchildren and still counting. Happy little voices, curious but respectful and beautiful precious moments when they, out of pure innocence, spontaneously say, " I love you, Da." )

The time is approaching when I assume the role of family patriarch, one I could not do before, and perhaps cannot do still; but I am now motivated to try. I can't undo the mistakes I have made, nor shall I be able to do likewise for those to come, but thanks to the lessons I learned from five people who have affected me more in the last few years than at anytime in my life, I will be here for the rest of my family and friends; waiting to assist - reaching out, and in so doing I hope to emulate the courage, strength and nobility shown by those people of whom I pay tribute, five everyday Americans, five extraordinary heroes.


In writing of family and friends, I prefer to include items of interest, if only to make the content seem more real. So for those of you who wish, please feel free to enjoy the photographs, depictions and links listed.

First are those of my children. They are:

Christopher, a 41-year-old poet;

C. Powell

Billy, once a hard working, hard hitting, honky-tonk man, is now a proud father of three at age 32, home each night from work just to rock his babies;

Paul, a 30-year-old-artist with more common sense and wisdom than anyone I know, no matter their age. He drives for UPS.

Katie, 29 and a gifted writer, full of dreams that I know will come true;

Katie, Paul Billy
Billy, Katie and Paul

Janette, a 28 year old gifted at almost everything from poetry to photography and the mother of two special little boys;

Janette and Kaleb
Janette and Kaleb(age 1)

Janette and Kameron (age 5)
click to enlarge

Janette, Kaleb and Kameron
click to enlarge

Hunter, a musician and teacher of music with awesome talent, singer, songwriter and sports nut at age 27, now owns his own security company;

Hunter and Nana
Hunter with Nana

Hunter and wife Morgan with Nephew and my youngest grandson Tobias(Emily's 3-year-old
click to enlarge

Emily, another gifted writer and mother at 25, the most independent and perhaps the strongest of us all.

Emily and Arianna
Emily with Nana

Below are my delightful grandchildren, followed by some other items that may be of interest.

Kaleb in tuxedo
Kaleb - age 14 months,

First Grader Kaleb - Yes he is that tall
click to enlarge

Arianna innocent
Arianna (Nana) - age 14 months,

Arianna - age 8, Kailey age 7, Tobias - age 3
click to enlarge

Emily and Kailey

Kailey the cowgirl
and Kailey - age three weeks

Arianna -age 8
click to enlarge

Kailey - age 7
click to enlarge

Tobias - age 3
click to enlarge

This is Ella
Ella - age three months,

Ella - age 7
click to enlarge

Maddy - age 5
click to enlarge

Olivia age 1
click to enlarge

Kaleb and I at the park
Kaleb on his first birthday with me, just before my 55th.

Lisa and Kaleb one
Lisa (L. A. Powell) and Kaleb

Lisa with Kameron age 5, Kaleb age 7 and Janette
click to enlarge

L. A. Powell

Janette and Jerry
Janette - age 9, with Jerry - age 19

Emily kaite and mom
My mom, the last time she was with Emily and Katie

Heaven on the Arkansas
Jerry - age 8 with Dad - age 57 as sketched by Jerry himself


For any of you who wish to read more about some of these wonderful people in my life, I've listed the items below:

The first is about Les. It is a fictional account, but based on his early life.

The Diaries of Lisa Lansing  (18+)
"I'll Always Be Your Friend" & "Yellow Bandana" in one book. Warning: cliffhanger ending.
#1290888 by L. A. Powell

Heaven on the Arkansas  (E)
My son's tribute to his late grandpa, drawn the week before my son passed away himself
#1065062 by Jack Goldman

 One Last Poem  (ASR)
Dedicated to Jerry Allen Powell II (1975-1997). What I should have said then...
#1178331 by C. Powell

When The Memories Call  (ASR)
For all grieving parents and anyone else who has lost a loved one.
#1306527 by L. A. Powell

 Moments of Gold  (E)
One infant teaches another and in the course of that moment, a grandfather learns as well.
#1308254 by Jack Goldman

A Gift of Angels  (E)
Infant cousins, unaware of each other til a fateful day, meet to send a special gift.
#1300255 by Jack Goldman

Are Baby Dreams Really Dreams?  (E)
A man wonders why the connection between him and his infant grandson is so strong.
#1271442 by Jack Goldman

Lament  (E)
For those I will not see again, I am better for having met you.
#752681 by C. Powell

 The Edge of Memory  (E)
We live our lives yet the universe goes on but still remembers our passing.
#752673 by C. Powell
© Copyright 2007 Jack Goldman (ocreview at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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