Saturday, September 12, 2009

Who's Your Hero?

"The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example."
-- Benjamin Disraeli

Like many women, my dad was my first hero, my first example of what it takes to be a man.

I’m one of the lucky ones. My dad continues to be a powerful, positive focus in my life, even though he died several years ago. My dad was a strong man, with a very low tolerance for laziness, stupidity and baloney. He kept his word. Always. You knew where you stood with dad, whether you liked it or not.

My dad wasn’t always popular at his job. He was a stickler for rules and for always doing your best work. He was promoted into a position of authority at a very young age. Some of the older folks weren’t impressed with taking orders from a young ‘un – although I’m sure they had much more interesting names for him! At his funeral, it was really touching to hear from these older men how they’d disliked or hated him at the beginning, but how he’d earned their respect and their trust. More good memories to add to my many personal ones.

The heroes in my novels tend to follow in at least one set of my dad’s footsteps. Sometimes more. But never so many that it’s a bit creepy :) They’re all strong, all men of their word.

So, how about you? Who’s your real-life hero? Does he show up in your work?

12 comments:

  1. One of my heroes is my late father in law, Butch. A native Oklahoman, he was a real trail riding cowboy and lawman. He served in law enforcement for almost thirty years; first in the local sheriff's office and later as an investigator for the district attorney's office. When I first met him, I thought he'd walked straight out of a Louis Lamour novel. One of my characters, a sheriff, was written with him in mind. I can still conjure his deep voice and stoic expression in my mind. He was a hero to many.

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  2. Butch sounds like an amazing man! You must be so proud of him and his legacy. I bet your sheriff is a real hero too :)

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  3. What a great dad! He must be so proud of you.

    My grandmother is my hero(ine). She's Myrtle Clover in my Midnight Ink series. :)

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  4. Thanks, Elizabeth, I hope so :)

    Your grandmother is Myrtle - that's fantastic!

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  5. That's cool that he won a lot of people over. I'm not sure if I have one hero and whether his qualities show up in my work. I'm going to have to think on that one. Good question!

    Jean

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  6. How wonderful to have a father like that and how proud of his daughter he must be?

    My characters are straight from my imagination. No one is in homage to anyone, nor are they a condemnation of anyone. I don't like making a character share the characteristics of anyone, as wonderful as that person might be.

    Elspeth

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  7. Jean - I'm glad I'm making you think :)

    Elspeth - most of mine are from imagination as well. But I do find certain characteristics end up showing up in all my male main characters. And those characteristics are the ones I most admire about my dad.

    Thanks for the comments, everyone :)

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  8. You know, I never really had a real life male hero. But I love writing strong heroes in my novels. One's that emulate characteristics I'd love to see in a hero in real life. I also give them faults as well to make them realistic, but I love writing a great hero :)

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  9. That's a good way to go Cindy - writing what we'd like to see in a hero! Yes, nothing worse than a perfect hero. People with faults are always much more interesting. And more fun to write about too. They can get into sooooo much trouble! Thanks so much for stopping by :)

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  10. Yes, like you, my hero is my own father: for being everything he was, without having to be anything he thought he had to be.

    My dad left school in 1944 at the age of 14, so his education was somewhat limited: a tragedy for the intelligent man that he was.

    Dad's ambitions were for me and for my sister, never for himself, and his one aim in life was to provide for his family.

    He wanted my sister and I to have all the things that he never had: a good education, a successful career, enough wealth to be comfortable. Incidentally, I think I've let him down to a certain degree on each of those, but knowing dad, I know he wouldn't hold that against me.

    Dad died in December last year, and thinking back to his life, I've realised that in terms of material things, he never really had anything.

    As I've already said, his education was basic to the point of being minimal, he did manual jobs all his working life, and he only ever had just enough money to scrape by with. (I'm sure there were times when things were even worse that that, but that wasn't apparent to us as children, so he and mum were obviously brilliant at managing well.)

    What Dad had when he died, was the love and constant devotion of his entire family: wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He had the respect of numerous friends, (and even the love of a lot of them, though Dad would never admit to anything so soft!)
    He died knowing that mum was provided for: he didn't leave much money, but he'd never had a single debt, having avoided depending on credit all his life.
    He didn't have an enemy in the world, and even people he only knew vaguely would always smile and say hello to him, because he was such a likeable guy.
    Even now, people I don't know, who recognise me as his son, stop me in the street and tell me how sorry they are that he's no longer with us.

    And the thing about all of these things, is that Dad would never have listed any of them as his aims in life (apart from maybe the love of his family.) They were all things that he accepted as normal and took for granted in a way, because of the guy that he was.

    But it's these things, these values, these attributes that makes him a true hero to me.

    I only hope that I'll be as loved and as well thought of when my life ends. My dad has taught me by example, that those are the things that define a person, and that matters much more than mere material things.

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  11. Sorry Jemi,

    In that last comment I forgot to mention the point about using my real life hero in my writing.

    It isn't something I've done.

    My Dad's good points, though admirable, don't really make for interesting reading or exciting characterisations; as for his bad points (which he did have, obviously, as everyone does,) they tend to match my own faults, so building those into my characters would be as much like using myself as a subject as my father.

    He did have one or two strong views on various subjects though and I do use those aspects in characters sometimes, and of course, whenever I'm writing about a character who excels in loyalty, hard work & devotion, I'm always thinking of my Dad.

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  12. Dave, your Dad was amazing man! One of those real people who do so much for the world just by being who they are and doing what they do. Great examples for the rest of us!

    I don't create my heroes with my dad in mind, but when I read my work afterwards, I do see hime in certain aspects of those characters. Always.

    We're some of the lucky ones, aren't we?

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