This last weekend, I made the long journey to the state of Kansas. To the city of Hays to be specific. I was following the yellow brick road to attend the Emerald Ball and receive an award acknowledging my “Outstanding Achievements in the Parkinson’s community.”
First day in Hays, I am doing my part to raise awareness, which included a talk about Parkinson’s disease and its impact on my life to hundreds of high school students. With arms crossed and scowls on their faces, I apparent that they were just too cool to show any emotion. Talk about a tough crowd. But as the speakers for that day came onto the stage for one last curtsey, I notice a screen behind us with the words, “A hero’s welcome” illuminating for all to see. Me? A Hero?
That weekend, I was referred to as a “hero” on multiple occasions. This was an awkward feeling for me. While I make many references to the well-known fact that I’m freakishly smart, adorable and pretty much an all over amazing human being, a hero I am not. This got me thinking, what is a hero?
When I think of a hero, I think of a woman in a cape bouncing around, saving people… all while wearing a skin-tight leather body suit and rocking extremely high stilettos. And what is up with her perfect hair that doesn’t even seem to move? I want to know what brand of hairspray she is using. Or the fact that she always has a fresh coat of lip-gloss on? Do you know how hard that look is to pull off? Can’t the girl give us a break and eat a donut? Sheesh!
There is also the dude who is an ordinary dork during the day, but a super hero who is fighting crime and injustice at night. Once again, wearing an unrealistic leather onesie, complete with a mask. But for some reason his voice is different and no one recognizes his eyes closely resembles someone they already know. Hmmmm.
Then we see everyday heroes, who are the firefighters, police officers and other everyday people who don’t think twice about risking their own lives for others, like running into a burning building to save an old woman in distress. Or when a man jumps into a frozen lake to save a puppy in trouble.
The definition of “hero” as described by my apple computer is, “a person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” Well that’s a sucky definition, probably written by a man… so I go to Oxford Dictionaries. They state that a hero is, “A person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities.” I can live with that. But it’s probably best to ask the great and powerful Wizard of Oz… my Dad. He states that a hero means, “Someone who takes action that results in saving another (or others) from harm without any thought of compensation or celebrity.”
It’s the night of the Emerald Ball. My seamless emerald-green dress, braided up-do, chandelier earrings, flawless makeup and high heels with gold rhinestones looked perfect next to my smoking hot date, my father, who is courageously wearing a tuxedo. The night is going splendid, when it’s time to go up on stage and receive my award. I have a brief moment of anxiety, fearing that I might try to stand and with wobbly, just-born Bambi legs, I would trip on my gorgeous gown, and fall flat on my face, while my dress flies over my head… well at least I would be remembered.
My biography is announced and that silly word “Hero” is dropped, then my name is called. I stand, my feet numb from my sparkly heels, I start my ascend onto the stage. As I grasp my beautiful award, I think to myself, “I don’t feel like a hero, but I do feel a sense of accomplishment.” I point to my Dad. I against all odds, have taken a devastating diagnosis, and made a choice to help others. But this was just something embedded in me. I didn’t have a plan to take on this challenge. It was just what had to be done. All this pain and struggle couldn’t be for nothing.
While the word “hero” still sounds funny to me, I was honored to receive my award. Truthfully, it slept with me on the pillow that night in the hotel… right next to travel size Blue Blankin. And hey, if a hero means getting to wear a beautiful gown, having my hair and make-up done, while supporting the Parkinson’s disease community, well then hand me a cape and mask, because this super hero is coming out!