The Truth About Heroes

Anita Strawn de OjedaI’m linking up with Lisa Jo Baker and the Five-Minute Friday flashmob—our goal? Write for five minutes about the word of the week. I confess that this week, I wrote for a little longer than five minutes.

The Truth About Heroes

I used to have an addiction to People Magazine and Entertainment Tonight. I loved knowing the latest scoop about the heroes of American culture. Movie stars. Sports heroes. Rock stars. Super heroes.

But not any more. While those people may be heroes to some, my definition of a true hero consists of this: a family member who sets aside or delays his or her life goals, aspirations, plans and desires in order to care for a loved one who needs above normal care.

Heroism doesn’t consist simply of a single deed or heroic act. True heroism lies in daily doing for someone else what they can no longer do for themselves. The truth is, our American culture doesn’t recognize those who plod along, daily doing for others.

It’s not sexy like a movie star to change a loved-one’s Depends throughout the day. There is no jubilation like a touchdown at the end of the day for a mother who has to quit her job to take care of her adult daughter who suffers from a traumatic brain injury. No one pays big bucks like a rock concert to read about the quotidian life of a caregiver who cares for a spouse with Alzheimer’s. While masses of people line up to buy tickets to the latest movie about super heroes, it wouldn’t occur to them to think about the super heroes living next door or down the street.

Our country has designated November as “National Family Caregivers Month.” What will you do to show your appreciation for a family caregiver? The truth is, caregiving often overwhelms the caregiver because of isolation and despair (a loved one with Alzheimer’s or a special needs child often don’t understand the simple act of thanking those who care for them).

You don’t have to give a family caregiver a free trip to Florida to show that you appreciate all that they do for their loved one. Try one of these simple, low cost ideas for showing your appreciation to a true hero that you might know:

-Send them an encouraging message (on Facebook, in the mail, via text).
-Buy them a gift card to Starbucks and offer to take over the care for an hour or two.
-Bring a meal to the house.
-Offer to run errands.
-Buy them a funny movie (because laughter is good for caregivers, too).
-Make a habit of checking in with a caregiver once a week and listen to them.
-Ask them how you can help.

If you’re a caregiver, please comment on ways that you would appreciate help (everyone is different). If you know a caregiver (if you’re not sure of the definition of caregiver, click here), leave a comment about your commitment to do something for a true hero this month.
If you’d like to join the flash mob, click on the button! Five Minute Friday