What Kind of Hero Can I Be Now?

My mom reads this blog. That right there tells you something about her, about me, and about the nature of our relationship. Recently she sent me an email which I got her permission to quote here. What you need to know for context is that from the ages of about three to seven, I spent a lot of my time being heroes. I had a revolving repertoire that included:

  • Daniel Boone, for which I had a (faux) coonskin cap and a fringed buckskin frontiersman outfit given to me by my grandparents
  • Captain Nemo, complete with pipe and sailor hat
  • Casey Jones, with a train engineer’s cap. I drove the sofa for my engine
  • Batman, with a pink baby blanket as my cape. I used the curtain pulls as Bat-phones

There was a panoply of other heroic roles as well, but those were the main ones. At seven I moved on to playing original characters for the most part. But yeah, you get the picture. When I was “in character” I refused to answer to my own name, used a different tone of voice, a different posture, etc. Mom says I would walk with a major swagger when I was being Daniel Boone, all confident and masculine. I wonder if that’s the same swagger my men’s clothes and this new haircut give me now?

This is from my mom’s letter:

I heard that Fess Parker [the actor who played Daniel Boone in the old TV show] died yesterday and couldn’t help but think of you and Daniel Boone and be a bit sad. But then, thinking of you and how devotedly you became Daniel and I was to be Rebecca [Daniel Boone’s wife]  and PK [Nezu’s baby sister] was Israel [Daniel Boone’s infant son], I couldn’t help but find myself smiling and wishing I could go back and wrap my arms around my very imaginative child.

I remember your dad went with you for some sort of interview before you were to go to kindergarden, and they told him that you identified more with male roles than female, which he interpreted to me that it was because I was not feminine enough. Somehow that didn’t bother me, but I do wish I had understood the importance of what they were telling us about who you were and are. I’m so glad you knew yourself and have fought to be that wonderful person.

Could I be more blessed?

My mom has a rare form of ovarian cancer, and we just found out this week that it is back after a cruelly short remission of only a few months, and she needs to start another round of chemotherapy. I can’t get over how angry that makes me. She and I have had a long, rocky history, but now we have come to this place where she could write me a letter like that, so full of love. How dare the universe threaten to take her away from me?

If only I could get out my coonskin cap and my broomstick musket, and wreak heroic vengeance on her cancer. If only I could stride in full of confidence and protect her from this invisible foe.

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~ by Nezu on 23 March 2010.

One Response to “What Kind of Hero Can I Be Now?”

  1. Dear Love, You ARE a hero to me, just being wonderful, delightful you! Your compassion, your understanding of what chronic illness is about, and your ability to explain all the medical stuff is such a gift to me. Please don’t waste your energy being angry; put it into the things that are good for you, like writing, or swaggering around with that awesome short, blue hair! Love, Mom PS I didn’t know about the curtain pulls as Bat-phones. Ingenious!

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