ARTICLE

Heroes come in many forms

Parents want their children to have better lives than they?ve had. That?s a given.


I remember my dad telling me that a few times; I believed him. However, I didn?t believe when he told me while disciplining me, ?This hurts me more than you.?


Recently, I thought about the better lives thing again.


The thought was sparked by a text message my youngest daughter sent me. She is my basketball daughter, the one I wrote about several months ago, the one who had two surgeries in less than three months.


I received Bailee?s text while in a Walmart parking lot. She told me that she was having surgery at the Mayo Clinic within days. Tests had revealed a large tumor on her abdomen. In the succeeding days, there was more bad news. It was much more complicated than the removal of one tumor.


Coming from a seemingly healthy 20-year-old, that is startling news.


Life, often times, is difficult to understand ? the most difficult being understanding why bad things happen to good people.


Why Bailee?


To know Bailee is to love her. Her carefree ?slightly spacey ? personality is a magnet, and she?s always surrounded by friends.


She never was leery of trying new things i.e. being a championship swimmer on a youth swimming team, barrel racing, athletics, participating in mock trial and a myriad of other activities.


Webster defines hero as ?a person of exceptional bravery.?


The definition fits her. Bailee has had more surgeries than I can count on both hands, the first of which was when she was three years old.


That?s not meant to be a contradiction to a preceding paragraph where I termed Bailee seemingly healthy. She had been healthy for the past several years, and she never let those surgeries interfere with her desires and goals.


Diagnosed with cancer at age two, she has lived a full and, fortunately, normal life.


So just when you think you are over the hump, this hits. Another tidbit of wisdom my parents left with me is that when your kids hurt, you hurt. So true.


What has impressed me most is Bailee?s attitude to the hurdles she?s faced. She has never questioned why these things keep happening to her, never asked for sympathy and has been the first in line to help someone else.


Her approach to her surgeries prior to her teen years was amazing. She never expressed any fear, perhaps in the vein of what you don?t know won?t hurt you.


As she grew older, her fears grew, too. Although she never admitted fear when facing the scalpel, a look into her eyes revealed her true feelings. One surgery in particular stands out.


A rather large mass had to be removed from her back, leaving a gaping hole. Skin grafts were needed from her thigh to fill the hole. Perhaps her fear was more about cosmetics than the surgery itself.


None of this has been surprising. We knew the road would be faced with potholes. The past surgery, however, gave a new appreciation to the years that passed without entering an operating or recovery room.


So, we are faced again with a rather long road to recovery. The recovery was interrupted by a return to a Rochester, Minn., hospital earlier this week for treatment of complications from surgery, and she remains hospitalized as this is being written. It is a road we have traveled before.


As I said before, I have never given heroes much thought. While I have had many friends, peers and others who have positively influenced my life, I don?t consider any of them heroes.


Bailee, however, fills my hero vacuum. She has had more than her share of misfortune come her way. She has never let those obstacles interfere with her outlook on life, nor has she whined or complained, going into the operating room earlier this month with a smile on her face. She has taken what life has offered her and made the best of every situation. That attitude fills my definition of ?a person of exceptional bravery.?