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.

9 Responses to “pictures of heroes”

  • Barbara Says:

    Very well put – family photos, old and new, cover my walls and shelves, too. I come from a long line of average myself, and I’m proud of it.

  • Joan Says:

    I love this, and feel the same way. And humble beginnings. Guess that’s what makes us who we are.

  • Kate Says:

    This is lovely.

    And especially nice with the Springsteen reference. I still have a crush on him, you know.

  • Nana Says:

    Personally, I’ve always thought of the ‘average’ as being the backbone of this country and we are a proud lot.I have heroes all over my walls and shelves, too.

  • Chantal Says:

    I do not have a family wall, but a few on the shelves, and the rest is on my net

  • Kathryn Says:

    This post gave me goosebumps, beautiful. We should all take the time to honor our own heroes.

  • Noel Says:

    I love this. I feel like even as we advance in this crazy technological age of Twitter and Facebook and whatever is next, there is a return to the wisdom of grandparents and great-grandparents. (I think you can see this in the minimalism/organic food movements, for example.) We’re learning that the new ways aren’t always the best ways.

    Also, I too have photos of my grandparents and parents on my walls, all of which were taken on their respective wedding days. We don’t have much info the ancestors who lived before us, so I love having these visual reminders of where I came from. My goal is to keep adding to it to pass on to the next generation.

  • debi Says:

    you once told me you loved that song and now i always think of you when i hear that line.

    going through my mother’s things, i am transported constantly into the past – she had boxes and boxes of photos. a view of her heroes, many of them mine also. thank you for this, for the getting to know you even better, for reminding me.

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