I probably owe my life to a woman in Gates, New York. I wish I’d thought to get her name.
We all have heroes in our past. Maybe it was someone who put you on the right path. Perhaps it was someone who literally saved you from a burning building. Alternatively, it could simply be someone who stood up for you at a time when it made all the difference.
Stories of heroes make great reading—as do the stories of needing rescue. Writing and sharing these stories accomplish a triple purpose. You can process the event of your past as you reveal a “road not taken” incident in your life. It also allows your readers to connect with the person that was there for you when it mattered.
My Story of My Hero
One summer during my college days, I sold books door to door in Gates, New York, a suburb of Rochester. Four of us shared a car. The driver would drop the other three girls off in their target neighborhood in the morning and return to pick them up ten hours later.
It sounds like a recipe for disaster. It was. No cell phones, no transportation. Our only safety precaution was never going inside a house.
At the end of one day, I waited at the entrance to a sub-division, sitting on my hard sample box. I’d had a good day and was looking forward to seeing my friends and exchanging stories. Oblivious that a car with three men had driven by to check me out, I sang “Love is a Rose” out loud. Mid-verse, I got one of those feelings you get when someone is watching you. I turned, just in time to see a man lunging at me. That feeling—that split-second look—was enough to save me from abduction. Luckily, for me, there was no such thing as being “too scared to scream.” Instinct kicked in. I ran and screamed like a banshee. (I’ve never heard a banshee scream, but that’s what the homeowner told me later.)
Things blur after that. I was tackled, punched, and my clothes were torn. My brain, unwilling to comprehend the magnitude of my situation, worried that my assailant would break the necklace my mother had given me.
In my next memory, I’m still on the ground—at least an acre away from my sample box, with my head and shoulders in a woman’s arms. People were running and yelling and a car screeched away.
My hero wasn’t more than five feet tall and she had long brown hair. She and her husband and brother-in-law had been across the road having a beer on their front porch. When they heard my screams, the men looked at each other, trying to figure out if it was a prank or not. The next thing they knew, my hero was running across the street to take on my attacker. Figuring that she might need some back up, they joined in.
Technically, I don’t know what she saved me from. Evidently, the plan was to grab me from behind and put me in the car. The men were never caught.
Statistics at that time painted an atrocious what-if. The mortality rate of women raped by multiple men was around 85%. The mortality rate of women abducted was around 96%. Whatever their plans for me were, it wasn’t going to be pretty.
Who were the heroes in your life? You don’t have to limit yourself to just one. Write it down or tell someone the story!
Story of My Hero — Physical Rescues:
Did someone rescue from physical peril? These stories of heroes can include first responders, by-standers, or medical personnel. Perhaps a doctor made a diagnosis that allowed life to return to normal. Perhaps it was a police officer “just doing my job,” that went far beyond the call of duty.
Our stories of heroes don’t have to be about life and death situations. They can be stories of people who made a difference. Did someone point you on the right path? Did they stop you from going down a destructive road? Write about them. What did they do that sparked you to change? What made them special?
Did another child save you from bullying? Did a teacher? Did someone believe in you enough that you decided to follow your dream? Did an advocate that helped you remove yourself from an abusive relationship? Was it hard for them to stand up for others or part of their make-up? What did their actions mean to you at the time? What about now, looking back?
Did someone lead you by example? A great example of this is Jeff Pearlman’s My Brother, My Hero: An Asperger’s Story.
I’d love to hear your comments or your “my hero” story!