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Heroes In Every Day Clothing

By: Attorney Katherine S. Breckenridge, Esq.

Published August 1, 2017

Probate & Estate Administration

Her husband passed away just a few months ago, and as she was searching under the hallway stairs recently, she came upon his winter boots. At once, she was so excited to find the boots that her treasured one had been searching for since last winter, and then came the indescribable sadness and loneliness, that she had no one with whom to share that excitement. The only one who would have been as excited to locate the missing boots, no longer needed them.

Gripping. Heart-wrenching. Fragile. Strong. Courageous. – All in the same moment. She was and is a hero.

To face an element of life, for which there is no preparation, no tutorial, no play-by-play rule-book, and do so with dignity rises to hero status in my book, and I hope in yours.

What comprises a hero? As I participated in that “ice-breaker” during English class oh, so many years ago, I still remember that jaw dropping awe I felt when in front of fifteen students, the faculty advisor answered, “Jesus” when asked to name his hero.

At seventeen, though respected, I was viewed as just a little quirky as I unapologetically stood firm in my beliefs within the halls of a public institution. The embarrassing thread to the scenario that day was that I had not been the bold one in that setting; I had selected a human hero. Though I was truthful, it was an “acceptable” truthful, not an ultimate “truthful.” That feeling of self-disappointment is memorable, even after all these years.

Why is there a stigma attached to the proclamation of the ultimate hero? I encourage others – never again. If we did not have such an example, would we recognize the heroes on our own streets? Would we know how to be a hero? Would we have the capacity to be a hero?

What comprises the character traits of a hero? Is it an attaining of a goal, a self-sacrifice, a larger-than-life image? Perhaps a hero comes in varied degrees and may be identified by individuals in different contexts.

I think of the Samaritan, who helped a destitute man who had been beaten and robbed by thieves when others had looked at the man and passed by on the other side of the street. Luke 10:25-37 NKJV Not only did the Samaritan care for the man’s wounds, but paid for his room and board at an inn while he healed. We are taught, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13 NKJV

As an estate planning attorney, I sit at the feet of heroes daily. These are individuals who, whether they realize it or not, have been like the Samaritan and have stood in the gap for one with wounds, and many have set aside their own plans and ambitions for the care of others. We utilize estate planning documents, and sometimes contracts, to enable these heroes to do good works with authority.

The following are hypothetical examples, which merely give a glimpse of the incredible people who make up our community, and are our heroes in every-day clothing.

Sitting at the feet of an angel – that angel being a senior adult who was raised without means, and who has given love, a safe home haven, and an example of a Godly and generous spirit to not only this person’s own children but countless other children.

Then there is the person who through a program designed to help those who have been ill and in another era may have been in assisted living facilities earlier than anticipated, gives hope where previously there was pain and immobility.

There is the adult child who recognizes that guardianship of her parent and conservatorship of her parent’s assets is the best protection that can be offered for that parent, and lovingly and patiently, over many months is witness to spearheading the process.

There is the family, which pools together their resources so that their parent can stay in the family home for as long as feasible. Around many corners can be found a very special set of heroes – the adult children who make the care of their parents who are in need of almost 24/7 care, a priority in their lives.

Super hero status goes to the multiple spouses whose fairytale romances have turned to an unplanned chapter, as he or she is now the caretaker of their loved one. There is nothing in life that prepares a spouse for the heartache of being informed that his or her spouse has a terminal and progressive disease. Nor is there anything that prepares the receiver of that prognosis for the realization that he or she will not be able to care and provide in the very near future for his or her spouse.

Daily, I am brought to my knees by the challenges that are faced by so many, by their ability to continue to move ahead, even in the face of incredible adversity. These individuals are heroes in the truest sense of the word. They are role models, they are good Samaritans, they give of everything they have and then some, many are in pain . . . many are invisible to the vast population.

I heard an interesting quote recently, from a poignant movie called, Still Mine – a love story about an older adult couple, when one spouse wrestles with dementia. “When I was young, I was sure that by the time I got old, I would have had enough time to figure out age.” How many of us think that until we start reaching fifty? And, we realize, age can’t be bottled and controlled.

The issues that are so difficult are ones that may be part of the cycle of Life; however, the level of struggle does not have to be so acute. I wish that I had such awareness much earlier in life, as now I am driven to solve such a great dilemma within a sort time frame. I do not have the answers. Yet. I pray that I will find ways to help. I encourage you to keep your eyes open for that every-day hero, and to find a way to help.