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Holding Out For A Hero: A son’s tribute to his father

For most of us our first hero is our father. When we are toddlers the fact that he was a necessary part of our creation is something we neither realize nor rationalize about but we do see his awesome power. Here we are proud because we can lug an eight pound gallon of milk in from the car and there he is capable of lifting us over his head, throwing us into the air or carrying our exhausted form around at the end of a long and trying day; and don’t even get me started on how omnipotent he seems when we are babies.

As we age and mature we begin to see that Dad isn’t as all powerful and infallible as we had thought. We get a little perspective on his and our own place in the world but be that as it may, most of us want desperately to please our fathers whether his flaws are of the shocking or mundane sort. We love our dads; either despite his flaws or because of them.

When we are young dads seem to be capable of anything. Of course once we hit puberty our self-centered, myopic vision may makes us think dad isn’t worth a hill of beans, but if we are lucky and have a father who is worthy of the name then with the passage of a few more years we are almost certain to come back around and discover that Dad was pretty special all along. I was pretty lucky in the dad department.

In 1984 the movie “Footloose” was released and with it Bonnie Tyler’s song, “Holding Out For A Hero.” I liked the song and subconsciously my 23 year old self probably put me in the hero’s place. It turns out that the then 33 year old Welsh singer was not singing about me, she was singing about Frank and the gift he was to all of us.

She opens with:

Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?
Where’s the street-wise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?

I’ll spare you my singing, and I’ll be the first to admit that Frank wouldn’t want me to go around using the word “gods” to describe him, but there he is in a nut shell. His whole career was centered around creating safer, more street-wise drivers so that we all could fight the rising odds of being involved in an automobile collision and thus the subsequent carnage and heartbreak.

The song keeps talking about Dad:

Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need.

If any of you have ever had the, er “privilege,” of watching Frank get worked up about a cause that he believed in then you know that saying he was a knight on a fiery steed is no hyperbole. The man knew what passion for a cause was.

A lot of his passion for saving the world can be attributed to a promise he made to God on what he feared was his death bed. Dad had been severely injured while in service and he prayed to God to spare him so that he could go on and become a medical doctor. Didn’t you see the “Doctor” before his name? He didn’t fulfill the exact letter of his pledge to God but he did its tenor. I am certain Dad saved more lives through driver education than he would have as an M D.

Somewhere after midnight
In my wildest fantasy
Somewhere just beyond my reach
There’s someone reaching back for me.

Dad calls to me at all times of the day and night. He’s reaching back and reminding me every day in ways big and small what it means to try and live up to his legacy. It’s a challenge, but in my fantasy I dream that I can fill Dad’s shoes.

Racing on the thunder and rising with the heat
It’s gonna take a superman to sweep me off my feet.

Superman really isn’t a stretch when it comes to describing my dad. He was anything but perfect, but man did he cast a long shadow.

Up where the mountains meet the heavens above
Out where the lightning splits the sea
I would swear that there’s someone somewhere
Watching me.

I think Dad’s desire is to watch over all of us, to tell us to buckle up and drive right; to get too excited and say something in a less than delicate way and then to immediately add in, “I didn’t mean it that way!”

He’s watching,

Through the wind and the chill and the rain
And the storm and the flood
I can feel his approach
Like the fire in my blood.

And he’ll be there to lend a hand when we need it and his fire does surely run through my blood.

After all,

I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong
And he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight
I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the morning light
He’s gotta be sure
And it’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life

I had my hero; and he was strong, and he was a fighter and you better believe he was larger than life.

I’ll be thinking about you and praying that you and Mom are together and at peace. Just try to remember to not let your passions get the better of you and I’ll remember to follow mine, just like you taught me.

KAK

 

“Holding Out For A Hero”
Bonnie Tyler

Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?
Where’s the street-wise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?
Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need

[Chorus:]
I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong
And he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight
I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the morning light
He’s gotta be sure
And it’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life

Somewhere after midnight
In my wildest fantasy
Somewhere just beyond my reach
There’s someone reaching back for me
Racing on the thunder and rising with the heat
It’s gonna take a superman to sweep me off my feet

[Chorus]

Up where the mountains meet the heavens above
Out where the lightning splits the sea
I would swear that there’s someone somewhere
Watching me

Through the wind and the chill and the rain
And the storm and the flood
I can feel his approach
Like the fire in my blood

[Chorus]

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