Monthly Archives: October 2011

Real Heroes Are All Around Us

If you’ve followed this blog – and if you have, thanks, and if you haven’t, it really won’t matter for this entry – you know that my deep-seated ambition is to be a superhero, though it doesn’t seem to be happening, mainly because of a lack of superpowers. But now I think I know why.

It all came about a few days ago when I was in SoBo for my sister-in-law’s funeral. Her death came as a shock – I guess many do – and was a time, of course, of great sadness.

But the grieving also brought about some nice things. During the visitation, I reconnected with my cousin, Sharon, whom I hadn’t seen in years. She told me something highly interesting, which I’ve alluded to but not explained on Facebook.

What it was was genealogical research. She’s been tracking the history of the Murray family. I wasn’t surprised to find that we had come from Scotland. I had suspected that side of the family was Scotch-Irish anyway.

But the rest of what Sharon told me was pretty surprising, because I figured our clan was just a collection of worker bees.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, Sharon told me she hadn’t completely nailed down every detail, but she was sure the proof existed. And I, for one, believe her.

Anyway, here goes: Turns out the Murrays in the family tree started out as Morays in Scotland. And Sharon has traced the family all the way back to a guy named Andrew Moray or Andrew Murray. His claim to fame was co-leading (some say leading) the Scots at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in the summer of 1297, when they turned back the vastly larger English occupation forces sent by King Edward I.

Turns out Andrew could have used some good PR, because the other “co-leader” got all the fame from the battle (It didn’t help that Andrew died shortly after from wound he suffered there). The other guy’s name: William Wallace. You might know him better as Braveheart.

By the way, Sharon didn’t tell me this, but those Murray (Morays) also, apparently, were some kin to King Duncan. Yep, the guy that was the model for the one MacBeth killed in the play.

But Sharon did have another nugget from the family tree. If we’re kin to old Andrew Murray (Moray), then we’re also kin – direct descendants, even – to someone else that you have heard of. Someone who played a part in the history of Virginia and, for that matter, the United States. Someone who quite literally stuck her neck out when she didn’t have to.

That would be Pocahontas.

So, to recap, the Murray clan has a pretty well-established history of standing up against tyranny and injustice. Which, to me, is one of the greatest legacies anyone could claim. I’ve always been proud of my name, but I can say that I’m even more proud to learn all this family history. Which I really hope is true. And choose to believe.


But there are other heroes, too, the kind that do the right thing, even when it doesn’t find its way into the history books.

And heck, these people might be even more important that individual leaders (see Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series for examples of this).

I saw one of those while home for Tania’s funeral too.

My old neighbor Harry was the around the same age of my older brother Frankie, Tania’s husband.

I always liked Harry, he always had a joke, but I was a little frightened by him, too. His jokes sometimes seemed to have a serious side – and sometimes a pretty foreboding one. But by and large, I liked him, as I liked all our neighbors growing up.

Anyway, Frankie, who is in very poor health, was devastated by Tania’s death. He’s withdrawn anyway and became even moreso given that terrible loss.

No one, not my sister, not Frankie’s son, not anybody, was really getting through to him.

Except Harry, who visited every day. Who showed great kindness and compassion and humor. He makes Frankie smile. He really has brought out a lot of the old Frankie.

I can think of no greater hero to me right now.

And he didn’t even need super powers.

“We can’t all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.” – Will Rogers



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