Everyone wants a hero. Everyone needs a hero. As a child we dream of a 'Super-hero' coming to rescue us from life. Fixing our problems for us. When I was a girl, Wonder Woman and Bionic Woman were big back then. I use to run along my dad's 'tow truck' trailer in slow motion, while making that awesome 'Bionic Woman' slow motion sound, and then jumping off the trailer (which of course was fast motion) then I'd proceed in chasing my assailant(this was usually my cousin Kurt or one of my sisters..). I would tackle them, pretend to capture them and be the hero. My sons, when they were little boys, dressed up in a cape I bought them and would take turns being Batman. I even remember a few years where, anything my boys watched on TV they wanted to be. THEN after the program was over, they would act it out. So I limited what they watched. Thought I'd put them in a 'bubble of innocence' for as long as I could. They only got Disney movies, Commander Kelly and the Super Kids, Veggie tales and Gospel Bill. I remember shaking my head one day and laughing when my middle child(James), came out of his room dressed in his Toy Story PJ's, a cowboy hat, a toy gun, his batman cape, toy handcuffs and pencils sticking out of his ears. Then he yelled Yee-Haw and ran and tackled his big brother(Jordan). Of course I freaked out! My kid had pencils in his ears and took his brother to the ground!! Then Jordan reared up and roared like a Lion....(also dressed like a Lion). I asked them what in the world they were doing! James said he was Woody, Batman, a cop and Larry Boy capturing a ferocious Beast - and protecting the Lion King! I wasn't sure whether to laugh, be angry, or impressed at their level of imagination. So I took out the pencils, got up and said proceed....but be safe. It's so fun to use our imaginations as children. My daughter...she would always be a beautiful princess in all the lands...so I told her daily she was my beautiful princess...but I was boss of all the lands....so, she'd need to do chores until she grew up to be the princess of her own land...And she did. She would help me bake and clean and cook...all while dressed like a princess and having her dolls near to 'feed and nurture'.
It's interesting to watch human nature. Even as children, we show the world what we desire to be in our playtimes. I wanted to be a cop or a super powerful indestructible woman....my boys wanted to be super-heros and animal advocates, and my daughter wanted to be loved as a princess, a mom and be gentle and warm to mankind. I miss those days and sometimes secretly wish I could go back! Oh to be young and innocent.
When you think of hero's, we think of Marvel Comic book men and women with super powers. They either had the gift of speed, to be invisible, super human strength, could 'ice' people, throw lightening bolts or fire. We look up to the closest people in our human worlds that seem to 'posses' some of these hero traits. Police men, fire fighters, Dr's, wrestlers....you know what I mean.
Every kid has a hero. My hero was my dad. Raymond Merle Weiss. But never call him Raymond! It was Ray. He was a mechanic and owned a Tow truck. He was one of the hardest working men I've known. He was tough. Stern. Protective. Sometimes harsh. He believed in spankings and I got a lot of them. But he did it in such a responsible way. He would sit me down and say. 'Junella. You did something you shouldn't have. I am going to give you a few minutes to think about it and tell me what it is, and then you are going to get a spanking.' He would leave the room and it was torture. It seemed like forever. Then he would come and ask me, I'd tell him, he'd explain what was wrong and I would get the spanking. Then after a good cry, he would give me a hug and tell me he loved me and he forgave me. Am I advocating spanking? No. But that was my dad's belief. And it wasn't a negative experience. I respected him for it. He did so with love. And back then - that was the way.
Growing up, my dad was so strong and healthy. He would stand and pick me up and lift me high above his head until my nose would almost touch the ceiling. He'd bench press us as kids, and even a couple times I'd walk in and he'd be bench pressing my mom. Of course I rolled my eyes and told them to get a room. But deep inside I was happy to have parents who loved each other. When I was little, my uncle and aunt lived 2 doors down(I grew up in a house trailer...in a trailer court), and we'd go to visit them. He'd put me and my sister Zaneta in a sleeping bag and toss us over his shoulder and walk over to visit. We would giggle and laugh and thought it was so fun! He was a good man. A man of integrity. But if you crossed him...you could hear him yelling many doors over. He was fierce. But also a big teddy bear. I saw him give to people and help so many that others had given up on.
When I was about 13, he started getting weak. He was dropping things, falling, just not strong anymore. He was diagnosed with 'Progressive Systemic Scleroderma'. A disease that attacks the collagen production and connective tissue. It is known as the disease that turns your organs and skin into 'stone'. It's auto-immune and very painful. He now needed to practice other forms of strength. Mental strength, emotional strength, spiritual strength. Growing up, in my teens, he went back and forth to Naturapaths. And they helped enhance his quality of life and pain management. It actually prolonged his life past what his prognosis was. But as every normal teen...there were things that embarrassed me. He drove an old blue half tonne and the 5 of us would cram in there. Even though we owned a car we could all fit in. But it was saved specifically for summer holidays up to Edmonton and the coast. SO super cool and hip to drive up to Dairy Queen and get out of a single cab truck filled with 5 people...one of whom was sitting as a little girl on my mom's lap. I was horrified!!! How could he do this to me! He lived so below his means it was debatable whether it was wiser than those who lived above their means...but it was who he was and what his convictions were. He believed in owing no man anything. He didn't even have one of those there credit cards....until I was about 22. He was a simple living man. My mom sewed and baked everything from scratch. She would make things for our home and sold her baking for income until she got a part time job at a fabric store.
He passed away when I was 26. My heart broke into a million pieces. You see, all those years I had put my trust, my faith, my security in my dad. He raised me to love God and Jesus. And I did. But until he left this world....I never really knew just how much I relied on him. Then began my journey to rediscover my faith in God. That's a story for another time.
My dad was well loved, honest, caring, and worked alongside Emergency Responders so I grew up hearing stories. Watching my dad come home broken and not able to eat, sleep or speak after seeing some really awful accidents. He believed that you never let the sun go down without making things right. He always gave us a hug and said 'I love you sweety' on our way out the door. These are things many people never got to see. He was a hero to my kids. He was an amazing grandpa. His funeral was huge. On the way to the cemetery, at the highway we were met with Emergency Responders who saluted him as we passed and some proceeded to lead us and follow us out to his burial. It wasn't until that moment I realized just how loved and respected he was. I wish I had known that when he was alive. Earlier, just before the funeral, I went downstairs to look for my grandparents. They hadn't yet arrived. When I got to the church basement, I was shocked to see it full. With a screen up covering the service upstairs. And there in the middle of the people was my grandparents. I went and got them and asked them why they were there. We had seats upstairs. My grandpa Weiss cried and said he had no idea how loved my dad was. It's sad sometimes to not know the impact someone is making until they are gone.
I need to give the amazing and caring people of my hometown a shout out. You know who you are. This community...they did a selfless and incredible thing. They started a fund at the local banks and made sure my mom, my sisters, my husband, my kids and I could take time off work to be there with him. We each got a debit card to help with our travel and our bills. Who does this...? Givers. They were a community that was there in a time of adversity and crisis. I have never forgotten. I would get stopped running an errand by the town people asking how he was. When he passed...the flowers, the food, the calls, the love...was so great - we had to gift food and flowers to have room enough. Thank you. From my heart to yours...thank you. I miss him. So many times in this journey I have needed him. Wow - the tongue lashing I would have got for some of my decisions and failures...but he would've gotten the job done and made me walk my journey. For that I am grateful. And God gave me an amazing mom and now a step dad. And they are so loved.
He (my dad), always wanted to start a charity. A program. A minimum of 90 days to a year, for people who were coming out of hardships and having to put their feet back under them. So...my family is in the process of honouring him and creating a charity. Raymond House. Through this he wanted to help families rebuild after going thru adversity; get homeless people and animals off the streets; create community gardens and programs that provided jobs, healthy eating, organic living; build tiny homes to house those who needed a home and for those who were recovering financially. He wanted them to have access to proper professional clothing; make-overs; classes; business education and training. A community of people supporting them. He wanted it to provide survival courses; emergency classes/kits and instruction on what to do in accidents, home invasions, fires, roadside education - how to change a tire, seek assistance safely; fight off physical abuse and attacks...anything that was adversity. This was his passion. He always said, you will know who your friends are if you fail. Everyone is there when you are thriving....it's when you fall that you will need others and if there's nothing available...what will people do...
He cared. His heart was big. However, he never got the chance. He was too humble, proud and quiet to say when he needed help. And he never asked. That man worked hard right up until the day he collapsed and couldn't breathe and got taken to the hospital from work, with a collapsed lung. The disease had finally reached it's end. He died a month later. He never came home. I had many conversations with him in the hospital and I made him a promise. Some day, I would fulfill his legacy and create the charity he dreamed of. And I will. He wanted people to get to travel and have life experiences...he never got to. Or rather, he never took the time to. He wanted people to connect to a faith. To believe in themselves. Relationships to be healed. I cherish those conversations now. He told me that in life, you needed to learn how to become your own hero. Only you could decide if change would take place. Others could help, but each person needed to reach and pull out their 'hero inside'.
So, I am going through the process of getting my feet back under me. I have people building me budgets and re-payment plans; getting fit and healthy; mentally healthy; re-creating my fashion and beauty by becoming healthy and caring about myself again. Getting my business and accounts set up and creating proper contracts and forms. I am walking this journey so one day I can turn and help others as he always dreamed of doing. But never got to. I am on a journey walking through what he wanted to build. Then as a family we will provide it to others. Over the next year, as I meet and work with people in my journey, we will blog and video that path, and collaborate together to bring to other cities, communities, towns...a tour that will provide them the tools they need to grow. Each community we will connect with those who want to lend a hand and help make a positive difference. I want to connect with those who will share their stories of coming thru adversity and are making a positive difference and leaving a legacy.
So in every good path I take and change I make, I honour a man who always believed in me, in mankind....a man who did not believe in giving up. Nor did he believe in limits. 'You can do whatever you set your mind to do'. That is how he raised us. So here's to my dad and my hero.