pictures of heroes
One of my favorite songs of all time is Springsteen’s Candy’s Room.
“In Candy’s room, there are pictures of heroes on the wall.”
I sit here in my living room looking around me, and I see pictures of heroes everywhere. My children, my parents, my grandmother, my husband’s father whom I never met, pets from both past and present.
In a row of six, along one wall, there is my grandfather working on a tractor, his face hidden, probably completely unaware that his photo was being taken. And there, in another shot, he stands with his brother and an uncle or a cousin, and next, there is a woman that I don’t even know, just that she was someone’s wife or mother or sister, someone related or someone that knew someone related.
In those days, pictures did not come as easily as they do now, nothing quick or instant or easy. They were records, of time and people and life.
Hardworking people stand before me in these pictures, people who worked themselves to the bone and then some, just to survive. People who struggled through the Great Depression, the World Wars, poverty, hardship, strife.
This is where I come from.
No one famous, no one rich, no one that stood out in any crowd. Average people that lived average lives and made the best of it all, and could still manage to crack a smile for the camera. My grandfather, stricken with polio at a young age and permanently disabled, was one of the hardest working people I have ever known. I wonder what he was like when he was young, if he was ever carefree and silly, if he ever had time to sit in his backyard and ponder life.
Down further on this same wall is my drawing of our dog, Coby, the dog that made his way into my heart, a gift to my husband on his 40th birthday. And around the room are our children’s senior portraits, reminders of a time that seems like just yesterday and long ago all at once.
On the bookshelves, there is the old frau who befriended my husband as a young soldier in Germany, my grandmother in her nurse’s uniform, a woman who worked as a nurse to support nine children, mostly on her own. And my parents, whose smiles have been a constant in my life.
These are my heroes.
They’re all over the place, right here in my living room.
I am honored to stand among them.