The Measure of Man

I figured the title would grab you. I wanted it to say “How to Measure a Man” and knew there would be some who would make that into something sexual, or into bashing, or something it really didn’t mean. In this writing, I’m talking about all of man….mankind. It’s been on my mind for a few weeks. I had a bit of time off over the holidays, but was pretty much sick and making the best of it. Coming back to work in January was hard, and I’m still not quite myself, but this topic has been at the front of my mind and needs to take a spill. Here it comes, a big mind dump…stay on the train.

Mostly my thoughts have been about heroes in my life. My favorite heroes are the quiet ones, that fly silently under the radar, looking for no recognition that do not consider even consider themselves as such. I’ve seen so much of it the last few months my head has been spinning. It started last November. My daughter and I were talking about a family that was struggling; a single mom working a couple of crappy jobs with a little girl and a baby boy under the age of two that was kind of on the spectrum after a rough birth. I suggested we do a “Secret Santa”, and asked a couple of friends that are literally pros at it if they would help out. Of course they said yes when I asked. Sean and Tracy are silent heroes that do that sort of thing with regularity. So we set the whole thing up, with an Amazon wish list that was gigantic…because we knew enough about the family to know that Christmas wasn’t just a struggle, every day necessities were too. We gathered gifts and toys and money cards and cash and did that family a solid. My boyfriend and I delivered all the wrapped goods, and the mom hugged us and cried and we are literally strangers to her. My daughter did a lot of detective work to make that happen, and a few of us banded together to execute. One friend sent a generous cash donation to fill in the missing pieces. Mission accomplished. A bunch of silent heroes worked together and helped some people out.

During that time, my stepmother fell in her dining room and broke her hip. Once again, my daughter was right there to help my father with the situation. It turned into a long, drawn out hip replacement because of some complications. My stepmother was in the hospital for about two months. Thanksgiving and Christmas came and went. My dad sent regular updates. At the same time, a dear friend of my daughter’s took her own life. To say that life has been stressful is an understatement. In spite of my daughter’s own pain, she remained silent with her grandfather and did anything and everything she could do to help him and my stepmother. I took advantage of the Facebook platform that offers to do a fundraiser for charity for your birthday month and chose a suicide awareness group. In the middle of all that my father was going through with his own wife, he put half of the money that was the goal on it. My boyfriend, who has a large Facebook and TikTok following, shared the message so that it reached tons more people than I could have gotten it to. Silent heroes, stepping in and doing anything and everything to spread a message simply because I asked.

A dear friend of mine is going through a lot with his own health…yet most days I receive a kind message that says “good morning awesome lady, have a great day today”. My own mammogram scares, my other friend’s back and disc issues, and yet another one fighting for her life. Every day all these quiet heroes surround me and my problems sometimes seem first world and silly. There’s been a lot of highs and lows the last few months that have been tough to handle. But we handle it the best we can.

The one thing I’ve learned about myself is that I am a giver, and that I also have huge abandonment issues that while I’ve been able to identify, they have never really left me. Sometimes they trickle over into my relationships with friends and lovers. But what I know for sure is that when the going gets tough, those relationships stand solid. Your friends and your partner/spouse/lover should not be leaving you when things are at their worst. That’s when real friends hunker down and are in it for the long haul. Relationships are hard, all of them. It takes a lot of solid communication, patience, venting, blood, sweat, and tears to stay together and hold things together. When you are at your worst, your friends will lift you up, hold your hand, and make sure you know you are loved, not abandon you. I’m learning how not to project my abandonment issues on to others. It’s not easy. I’ll be 56 in a week, and I literally told my boyfriend the other night that it’s all I know. All I’ve ever experienced from men and some alleged friends is abandonment, whether it be something big or small. My own mother has jumped ship at being a mother to me more times than I can count. So have my sisters. That’s not how it’s supposed to work. I’ve learned that sometimes the people I call family are not blood relatives (even though there are some good ones in mine, they’re not all bad!) but the Paula’s, Liz’s, Laurel’s, Rick’s, Natalie’s, and Joe’s of the world often feel more like family than the rotten eggs I mentioned before. And they are heroes too, for loving and recognizing the person that you really are. The chosen family.

These are the measures of man that matter. This is love, laughter, forgiveness, kindness. This is the stuff of good memories and a good life. I hope that you’re lucky enough to have it in yours.

Photo courtesy of Pexel

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