She drove almost 2,000 miles from Pennsylvania to Texas to deliver a truckload of eggs. On the way back, her freight was 29,000 pounds of berries – among whose final destinations was a Philadelphia hospital.
On a normal week my sister’s driving comes with its own set of risks. She has lupus and being in a truck is not especially good for her health – even though she does split the driving with her husband.
During the COVID19 outbreak, it is even more so, given her autoimmune disease and compromised lungs. In the last several weeks, the government has relaxed the normal safety rules limiting how many hours someone can drive at one time – making the road even more dangerous.
While other safety precautions have been added, non-compliance comes with a steep fine (truck drivers who don’t wear a mask can now face a fine up to $1000.) Of course, they need to find a mask first. Adding insult to potential injury, while she has also delivered literally tons of toilet paper across the country, she was unable to find a single roll in their local stores when they returned home recently.
My sister is also a registered nurse. Lupus forced her out of the profession she loved – although she still maintains her license to practice.
She will soon put that love to practice once again. When she next steps out of her truck, she will step into a situation where she will be providing hospice care for the closest person to a father she has ever known.
When her service and the mourning that will inevitably follow is finished, she has talked about temporarily returning to nursing. In spite of her compromised state, she feels the need to serve others during the coronavirus pandemic.
There are many lofty and inspirational quotes and definitions of heroism. But perhaps the one that most appeals to me is from Arthur Ashe who once said:
“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others, at whatever cost.”
I think this definition suits my sister well. She might be embarrassed when she reads this and I doubt she considers her actions heroic. As she recently texted me, “I’m an average girl, and I’m ok with that.”
Some might suggest that we throw the term heroic and hero around too loosely. Maybe you think I’m doing it right now. But I am inclined to think that heroism is in the eye of the beholder.
And lately there is so much of it to behold.
When we see it personally, I believe we should draw attention to it with whatever tools we have at our disposal.
Just like these firefighters – heroes in their own right – who recently used their trucks and sirens to recognize others now on the frontlines of the crisis.
However, you define heroism, the next time you see it – say something. To the heroes and to anyone who might listen.
Thanks for listening. Be well.