The Forgotten Hero
Never Will We Forget
The Forgotten Hero
When you think of people who make a difference in the world, who comes to mind? Is it the Oprah’s? Is it Doctor Phil? Has it ever occurred to you that those difference makers are really no more than sales people who make money by telling desperate souls that the mighty TV personality is the prophet who will set the world free?
I’ve got nothing against famous people. I’m sure there are personalities who mean well. It’s great that they have a stage to do good in a public way. The Chicago Tribune has a daily column called “People You Should Know”, and the following is a tiny People You Should Know piece.
I’ve had the pleasure of watching this woman from a distance since she was born. “Judy the Beauty” was the name grandma gave her. The first girl grandchild. And oh what a grandchild she turned out to be. There are people who have presence, you know what I mean? The presence that says “pay attention, something important is about to happen”.
There’s a difference between ‘presence’ and ’it’. My brother has “it”. This is the quality that is commonly referred to as people magnet. It’s the way you feel when you’re courtside at a game seven NBA finals.
My sister has presence. This is the somethingness that makes the room stop and silence itself for the second it takes for the “Presence” to enter it.. Princess Dianna had presence. Jackie O had presence. It’s the aspect of a person’s nature which screams with a whisper, “Look at me!” It’s the attitude which shouts “love just walked through the door.
Ever since we were little kids, my sister Judy was gifted with the ability to bring people together in a party sort of way. There is no mistaking the crackle gaggle laugh that envelops the room when Judy is around. Here’s some Judyspeak so you get the idea. “youshuddaheardwhathappenedatworktoday manalivethephoneswerenuts” then she takes a breath. Can you say whirlwind?
It’s hard to exactly pinpoint what it is about this lady that explains her essence. She is by far the most ADHD adult I know. She is loud. She is nutty. She goes off on tangents that make a conversation with her closer to a rocket ride than a presidential debate. Want to understand Judy? See if you can count the times a hummingbird flaps its wings before it gets to the next nectar stop.
When we were kids, Judy the Beauty was the best hitter in any softball game we played. 150 foot shots from the outfield were a regular occurrence. With a Clincher softball! Before the advent of aluminum sissy sticks, my sister could hit a 16 inch as far as Shoeless Joe could throw a hardball.
Don’t get me wrong. Momma dragging home from work and finding her ballerina missing was a more than once incident. Poni G, the Polish landlady, generally knew where Judy was- sleeping on the feather quilt of a sofa. Using Polish language broadcasts as lullabies. Being soothed by Polish waltzes whispering from the imitation Zenith clear channel on the kitchen table.
June 1965. Mom hasn’t gotten off the bus from the union office yet. Being responsible brothers, the boys “lost” their sisterly charge. Kidnapped. Needless to say momma was appreciative of the big brothers who had just earned their PhD’s in Babysittingolgy.The neighborhood was scanned. The neighbors were alerted. It would be safe to say we looked around.
Ninety minutes of panic ensued. When no ransom note arrived from the ‘outfit’, momma peeked behind the horse hair couch in the living room. Can you say “sleeping like a baby?
So how does this relate to “hero”? Fast forward twenty five years. It might have been twenty six, but twenty five is a good Chicago Polish number. The boys married, moved, divorced, remarried, moved, made money, lost jobs, gained status. Typical American lives. Nothing that would ever make 60 Minutes, or warrant a report in the local news rag. The Forgotten hero raised momma.
Momma lived in four room flats her entire life. The only home of her own she ever embraced was the three bedroom bungalo the Forgotten Hero bought her. A brown brick house on a not too busy street in a not too middle class town with not too hoity toity neighbors. Momma wasn’t real good at saving for retirement, probably because she never had any money to save. The Forgotten Hero made sure that old’ Granny had a comfortable life and all the Fanny Mae chocolate she could ask for. The Forgotten Hero really understood the Gospel verse,”There is no greater love than to give one’s life for one’s fellow man”
Midnight runs to Walgreens so momma could get out of the house after her hip replacement. Taking a ride in the car with at $4.00 a gallon after a day of hassling with traders on the CBOT was the Hero’s lot. Serving as chauffeur, pal and date while momma went to see the people in the old neighborhood was the hero’s role. “The boys have families. They’re busy” Changing the dressing on a cancerous wound for a dying lady, one bandage at a time. The Forgotten Hero. Dan Webster defines “hero” as “a man of great deeds, distinguished by the ability to do great things.”
To Polish Chicagoans, Judy the Beauty did what all good unmarried Polish girls are supposed to do. “Stay home and take care of ma “. The Forgotten Hero performed great deeds in the battle of raising an aging parent. She fought to save a cancer patient who never “expected” but never asked the boys for anything either. She gave her life for someone else. So where’s the Medal of Honor?
Don’t look for a monument at Arlington National. Don’t try to find her in the history books. To Judy the Beauty and all the Forgotten Heroes who do the hard things every day, Thank you.
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