I have one. (Hero, that is).
His name is Jerry and he happens to be married to me.
Now, Jerry started off in life like everyone else, a common ordinary guy doing common ordinary every day things.
And I'm not certain when exactly that he arrived at super-hero status, but arrive he did. Most people probably wouldn't catch that about him right off... walking around in his mail carrier duds, carrying a TON of letters, bills, magazines, catalogs and packages to deliver as he goes about his daily mail route. He racks up miles upon miles, as he makes his way through his work day.

But you see, it's after the regular eight or nine hour shift each day when one begins to notice the subtle markings of super-heroism in the man.

Maybe after a particularly dreary, wet, cold, chilly-to-the-bone day, when he comes home soaked... or possibly a bug-infested, sweltering, humid, suffocatingly-hot summer day, when people haven't been so cordial and nice and he's soaked again as he comes-through-the-door-dragging kind of day especially, that one can pick up on all the earmarks of what could be considered a real hero.

He is a veteran from Viet Nam. Earning the rank of sergeant along with medals before being turned loose by Uncle Sam. And even though coming back and re-acclamating was rough back in those days, he came out a whole person who kept and maintains yet today, a great sense of humor and sense of who he is.

He was a hunter at one time, but laid the gun down after the war in Viet Nam and has not desired to pick it up since. I know he would in a split minute if he had to defend his family, but he came away with a new respect for living and for the living things that surround him from that experience.

Jerry suffered a heart attack on the job twelve years ago. It was the worst day of my life.
As I picked up the phone that day to hear a woman from the local hospital telling me to rush over there because Jerry had driven himself into the ER in his mail jeep just a few minutes earlier, and he was in trouble.
While there, I saw them wheel him out on a gurney to a life flight helicopter for transfer to one of the larger hospitals, stop midway and return because he died on the tarmac and they needed to bring him back in for stabilization before transport. The thought of him not ever being here with me again had never even crossed my mind until that time. He was only 48 years old!

But God is good, and we have been blessed. Jerry recovered fairly well and after only six weeks, returned to work and has been working ever since. He is the dearest person in my life, and I can not imagine him not being by my side.

We have, through these many years, had award-winning battles with each other (which has made life nothing if not interesting), and we may not always have been as kind or considerate to one another as we should or could have been. We've at times even acted quite unbecoming to one another, but always, always, we have loved each other deeply.

This man who works a very difficult job (most people would not last through the day on one of Jerry's routes - especially on one of the dire weather days mentioned earlier), comes home to a wife who has been chronically ill for 28 of the almost 38 years of marriage. I have Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction (you know... the "made-up" illness, or rather the "yuppie flu stuff" we've all heard of)... and Fibromyalgia, Chronic Myofascial Pain Disorder, Asthma and Arthritis. Along with a few other maladies and health considerations. The CFS alone, is an elusive and little understood illness that often can and does completely devastate it's sufferers. It possesses a "cycling process" by which a person may have a period of seemingly good - or well days, to then be stricken with overwhelming exhaustion and flu-like symptoms and pain that can put one down for days, weeks, and sometimes even months at a time.
The FM can add to the mix it's own brand of exhaustion and pain which can be utterly debilitating. The CMPD creates enormously painful knots anywhere on the body which then "network" from one place to another by forming rope-like cords connecting to one another, creating whole sections of tremendous pain. Often, physical therapy is used to help alleviate these painful knots by manipulation, and kneading them to flatten them out and get them to release the stored toxins they contain, thereby bringing some relief from the systems of pain they have created.

When Jerry walks in the door from his work, it's then he faces his "real job"... for he never knows whether he will face Cinderella or one of the Wicked Step Sisters on any given day, in light of the mood swings and level of pain that these illnesses cause for me. And he doesn't know whether I've been upright and mobile for the day or had to stay down on the heating pad in bed the live long day.

But after he puts in a regular work day, regardless of whether itís been a good or a bad one, he comes in and pitches-in with supper if I'm struggling, and helps or takes over clean up after the meal if I can't do it (and I can't much of the time unfortunately). He vacuums and dusts, picks stuff up around here, does the laundry, runs errands, does yard work, car maintenance, takes care of our furry four-leggers, and just anything and everything that may need done that I can not do on any given day.

I can tell you that I'd have given almost anything to have been able to write the chapters of our book of life together differently. To be able to change how it's unfolded before us, and to ensure that Jerry is not the one that has to do the lions-share of the work load that is done in our shared little world, instead of being able to do my part. It's been more than frustrating at times, to just have to watch and have to carry a spectatorís part in this scenario and feel so useless. But my husband has not complained. He just does what a man's gotta do. He stepped up to the plate, despite his own health struggles, or work demands upon him, or any other excuse for not taking his vows to love, honor, and cherish seriously. He does these things and more.
And he is there for anyone else who needs him also. I can not tell you how many times heís dropped everything to go help someone who just needs an extra hand. When it is within his power to help, heís there.

There is no one who could ever compare to this wonderful man who truly is the hero God has gifted me with.
Although his son has followed in his fatherís footsteps in these regards, which makes him a close second. Iím very gratified that our sons gleaned all the good things from their dadís example through the years, and very proud of them both.

And in a world of sappy, idiotic, action adventure dime-a-dozen wide-screen-so-called hero's that are paraded before us, I am not fooled one whit. I know what a real hero is. And Jerry stands above them all.

He may not go swinging through life on tree limbs rescuing damsels in distress, or swashing some dastardly dudes buckle, but he certainly has rescued THIS distressed damsel often enough in these almost 38 years together, and my fervent prayer is that he will continue to leap tall buildings with a single bound, and out run speeding bullets and locomotives in my life for a very long time to come.

Next time you see a short little mustached mail man carrying a satchel full of letters, give him a big smile and thumbs up! He deserves it. A thousand times over.
And you just never know, you may even catch a glimpse of his red cape underneath that blue postal uniform he's wearing, if you just look a little closer.

He's my husband Jerry.
And he's my hero.

linda marie pharaoh-carlson©copyright 06, all rights reserved

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