Say who is this typing man?

I don't even know, people. They let anyone write on the internet nowadays.

Sep 11, 2012

My Mom is a Big Damn Hero

I'm a huge geek. Seriously. You're not surprised, right? Come on, I've got a cribbed Joss Whedon Firefly line in the header of this post. I love stories of overcoming adversity and aliens exposing the underlying truths of humanity and crazy superpowers and knights and wizards and all that jazz, and I can fangirl out at the drop of the hat for oh... anything. (Seriously. I got followed by @ConfusedCap, a fictional twitter account for Captain America, and I felt like a superstar.) My fandoms are as wide as the great expanse of space (including the uncharted Delta quadrant), and my shame at my enthusiastic love of most all things geeks is practically nonexistent. (I say practically, because parts of 4chan straight up scare me.)

I come by geekery honestly, though. My mom started my two brothers and me on Star Trek, musicals, crafting our dreams and reading classic novels before we grew out of the stage where everything is amazing, and as a result none of us ever really grew out of that stage. We never struggled with the suspension of disbelief, because the stories of overcoming ridiculous odds and generally being a hero never seemed too out of reach - we had an example right in front of us.

My mother is my hero.
Okay, she can be a geek at times as well.
She dropped out of college and worked various crap jobs (some literally crap jobs, she was a zookeeper at the Birmingham Zoo) and married the man of her dreams who had also dropped out of college and forged a life where their marriage could grow their faith as they provided for three kids on a one-kid budget and kept them all healthy and happy and fed, pushing through depression, going back and getting her degree as her youngest 2 graduated high school (twins, remember?) because she was writing curriculum for the field she was in, and they thought since she was creating the classes she should probably have graduated from them.

My mother should be your hero too.

She was the first (and was the only for most of her career) female fire fighter in Mountain Brook and saved lives and fought fires for over 25 years before retiring with the rank of Lieutenant. She was also an EMT and in her spare time joined DMAT (Disaster Medical Assistance Team), a volunteer-organized and led division of FEMA that responded primarily to natural disasters. I say primarily, because in September of 2001 she and her team AL-1 (Alabama Team One) deployed to ground zero. She was team captain of 13 fellow medical volunteers who treated the workers coming off of the pile. The workers digging through the rubble of the trade centers knew that the AL team would do their best to patch up any injuries and send them right back out there. People would duct-tape wounds shut out of fear of being pulled from their work and wait for her team's shift to start because they knew they'd only be taken from their duty if there was no alternative.
This was taken two weeks after impact.
Mom dealt with the crushing stress of working at ground zero with aplomb, sweet tea and the aid of her Toy Story Sheriff Woody doll. She came back with pins from the other DMAT teams from all over the states and the obligation to share her story with her home state. Luckily, Mom's skill at story-telling, well-honed from coming to my kindergarten class and reading The Highwayman and telling zoo stories and firefighting stories at bedtime, was well up to the task of expressing the horror and hope found in New York.

I was in middle school - I wasn't even really sure what the world trade centers were, and when I saw it on TV before the faculty were ordered to shut off the news and explain to the kids, I honestly thought the buildings being shown were somewhere in Japan or something. It was a shock to realize safety can be an illusion, even as far away from the more iconic cities as Alabama is. I don't remember much of her being away. I'm pretty sure she called us a few times - I know she at least called Dad, because our family is her favorite touchstone of support. I do remember waiting in the airport for her to arrive home and having a news crew there.

Of course, four years later she'd do it all again in the NOLA airport after Hurricane Katrina - I do remember her calling home from there, since the phrase "If you hear about a medic that's been stabbed, don't worry, it wasn't me" was in the conversation. She brought back a cat from that one.

My mom has been my hero since before I could express myself in writing. My dad too, actually. She's my hero for reasons that don't really have anything to do with what she's accomplished, but more with how she operates and works with her gifts and around her own flaws and just is generally amazing. The rest of the stuff just makes it easier to force other people to recognize and feel even a bit of the awe she can inspire.

So yeah, to further crib from Whedon, I believe in heroes. It's an old-fashioned notion, but not hard to do.

Because my mom is a big damn hero.


  1. Just found your blog, and I really enjoyed this post about your mom- she is a truly amazing woman- a hero indeed.

    and she introduced you to the magic of musicals, so, you know, score!

    1. Thanks!

      I've found musicals help in just about every aspect of life.

  2. My freakin' sister has a blog and she doesn't tell me. Lame!

  3. I Love Sadie...and Donna....and JW.....and John....and Donald....That is all


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