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Our Perfect Hero

John and my sister, Marybeth

I had to be annoying as a little sister.

John was ten years older than me, and he may as well have been a rock star in my eyes. I was attracted to him like a magnet, quietly determined to be in his presence as much as humanly possible, because whatever room John was in was more exciting.

Like plants add oxygen and vibrant color to the world, John adds life and vitality and energy wherever he goes.

I would hover around him, listening to his stories (there were many), biding my time until he left the vicinity.

After summer regattas, where he raced all day, he would come home and fall asleep on our sofa, and I would take up my vigil, waiting for him to wake up. At twilight, we would pile into our car and drive to a local running trail. Dad would shine his headlights down the dark trail, and John would take off, as though shot from a cannon, down the trail while we we timed his effort.

As luck would have it, my handsome brother became the student teacher at my junior high school. Arriving at school in his beat up Honda Civic was my ticket to popularity. I would sit in his passenger seat, amongst his sweaty socks, proud as a peacock. It may as well have been the Royal Carriage delivering me to Westminster Abbey.

Through the years he was my paddling coach who saved me from the bully in the girls locker room. He taught me how to throw a spiral with a football. He wrote me training programs when I wanted to become a better runner. When we played tennis, he would give me three serves.

One day, he brought his girlfriend Debbie home. She was beautiful, so I was worried. And then she opened her mouth and she was smarter than a whipper snapper. I was devastated. I was already in a heated competition with my other brothers, sisters, and parents, for John’s attention, not to mention golf, running and paddling. How could I possibly compete with Debbie?

This is how a twelve year-old thinks.

But just like she beguiled my brother with her combination of intelligence and charm, she soon had me eating out of the palm of her hand. She is still the ying to John’s yang. Like attracts like, and Debbie is John’s perfect match: strong of character, witty and engaging, scientific, methodical and hard working. I love her like a sister.

What is your definition of a perfect person? If you could pick anyone in the world, and adapt their characteristics, energy, and essence, who would that be? Some might choose an engaging leader-type. Someone who leads the charge and takes the bull by the horns. Others might choose someone more quietly engaging and charitable. Imagine for a moment combining those two very different personalities.

Somehow, that’s John.

He is both the leader and energizer of the pack, while at the same time unassuming and gentle. He is whatever an given situation calls for: he either lightens the moment, or revels in the beauty of it. He is the perfect energy source, the alpha and omega of people. He is the person I most want to be like. He is the person everyone who knows him most wants to be like.

John, do we tell you this enough? You are our epitome of perfection.

It’s not surprising, even in sickness he is leading by example. I saw him yesterday, smiling and brave even at this point in the game, even after all the shit he’s had to deal with. A year of pain and suffering and fighting. Not bitter, or scared, just brave and happy. Happy.

Our perfect hero.

Categories: Life
  1. June 5, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    This is pretty much the sweetest post I’ve ever read.

  2. June 7, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    I’m glad John’s still fighting…thank you for this post, Deanna!


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