What Makes a Hero

He was a tall, rugged man, the father of a close friend. Growing up, I was mesmerized by his Air Force uniform, how he wore it, strong and straight, The perfect creases and gleaming pilots wings; the dazzling medals on his chest, To me, he epitomized the word hero and I once shyly told him so, Afterwards, he gave me a strange smile, voicing words I never understood, Son, you don't know what makes a hero

The years went by and one day, I'd heard he passed away, Moved, I visited his grave in Arlington, thinking about what I'd recently learned about him, It wasn't only the integrity with which he lived his life or his prowess as a military aviator, It was the little things: How he'd nightly massage the feet of his dying wife and later chose a frugal existence, Saving his pennies for his daughters and his grandchildren, never once complaining, Love isn't normally used to describe a soldier, but that's what he displayed to all who knew him, Son, you don't know what makes a hero.

Placing the flowers by his headstone, those words came back to me, More than anything, I wanted to turn back the clock and tell him he was right, That all those years ago, I didn't know what made a hero, but did so now. It wasn't the medals or the honors or the battles fought and won, It was the singular act of living a life defined by a love, selfless and complete, Saluting a final goodbye, I slowly walked away, grateful for a lesson learned, I now knew what made a hero.

WALK AWAY

If thoughts of me don’t warm your heart, And images of me don’t fill your mind’s eye, And if you don’t have a longing for the gentleness of my caress, Or the tenderness of my lips upon yours, Then please, Dear Love, just walk away.

If you can go down the road of life without wishing me by your side, Our hands joined as one, a partnership for life. If you desire another, whose love is greater than mine, And he fills you with joy more powerful than I, Then please, Dear Love, just walk away.

If you can welcome a future without me in it, And live out your years without unhappiness or regret, And never wish to turn back the clock for a brief moment with me, And never feel the emptiness, knowing what could have been, Then please, Dear Love, just walk away.

But if none of the above prove true and I am your love, Then dismiss all you fears, knowing I will forever be by your side, Step by step, as we journey as one, down the road of life, Because, Dear Love, you decided not to walk away…

But rather, to stay.

All the Way to God

We met in our naive youth, two kids barely in their teens, She came over to me and our eyes slowly met, We smiled shyly and after awhile she finally spoke, And said the words I would always remember... I love you All the Way to God...

And for the next few years those words proved true, As we grew into one, two lovers believing they would be together forever, But we were still children and my family had to move. The final goodbye was wrenching and as I walked away, I heard her final words... I love you All the Way to God.

The years passed and we fell out of touch, Each living separate lives until one day I got a call. Immediately, the memories flooded back at the sound of her voice, It's me, she said, and I meant what I said, I love you All the Way to God.

I choked up and it took me forever to reply, And when I did, there were tears in my eyes, As I looked at my children, I told her the only thing I could, Her call came too late and we had to wait to be together, Until we were in the Hands of God.