Monica L. Murphy
Heroes abound all around us these days. All you have to do is look at a police officer, fireman or soldier, and you see a hero. They come in all shapes and sizes and colors. This particular hero of my story is from the South and has fought more battles than most people who read this ever will.
When this young man, we’ll call him Jordan, was born, a nurse told his mother that he would have to stay in the hospital and possibly have a feeding tube because he would not take a bottle. If he didn’t eat he would die. His mother asked for a few minutes alone with Jordan; the nurse agreed and left the room.
The young mother turned to the newborn baby in her arms and said, “Okay, my sweet angel, it’s just you and me. Things won’t always be easy and I’ll always be truthful with you. So let’s start now. You need to take this bottle or the doctor will put a very uncomfortable tube in you and you’ll have to stay here. The outside is a lot more fun and full of adventure.”
The newborn looked up at his mother with the most beautiful, trusting brown eyes, and as she put the bottle to his mouth he began to suck on it like a pro. When the nurse came in, she shook her head and smiled. Wasn’t that always the way in the South? Start telling the little ones how it was early enough and problems could be averted.
As Jordan grew older he had a different kind of relationship with his mother. She always talked to him as if he were an intelligent person, not just a little kid getting in the way. She usually worked two jobs and was tired a lot, but that didn’t stop her from signing Jordan up for flag football, Little League, basketball and soccer. More often than not, Jordan’s mom would sign on for Team Mom and even occasionally, soccer coach.
The years went by and the two added a stepfather, brother and sister to Jordan’s world and new adventures as a military brat. Eventually though, when Jordan was fifteen, his mother and stepfather divorced, and Jordan, his mother, brother and sister returned to Texas.
Fifteen was a climactic year for Jordan. He helped his mother with the younger children and everyone constantly told her how he was one of the finest teenagers they’d ever known. But he increasingly grew tired and lost weight and a doctor found a lump under his arm. Preparing the family for the worst, the doctor sent them to an oncologist. Everyone agreed: lymphoma. Jordan was prepped for surgery and a treatment plan was set up.
Jordan says he remembers his mother praying, “Lord, I’d rather have a healthy obnoxious teenager than a dead perfect child.”
The prayer was not heard just by Jordan, for the most amazing thing happened. Doctors shook their heads. All traces of the cancer disappeared. Was it ever there? No one knew, but Jordan and his mother were sent home with many words of caution should the lymphoma “rear its ugly head again.”
One thing Jordan was told during this time was he’d never have to worry about joining the military. He recuperated and started a rebellious period. Every time his mother got on to him about curfew, his “new friends,” smoking and girls, he’d smile that perfect smile and remind her of her prayer.
Jordan refused to let 9/11 discourage him. Like so many young people, he felt the need to protect his country. By the time he was 19 he was shipped off to Iraq. His first trip out of his own country would be to a war zone.
For over a year Jordan fought unknown among so many other unknown heroes. Soldiers, marines, all branches stood ready to serve. They didn’t see themselves as heroes though. They felt they were just doing their jobs. Jordan could never understand walking through an airport in his camouflage BDUs to thundering applause. He felt the heroes were the ones who never made it home at all or who were injured. Every letter and phone call home was about making sure the family wasn’t in need. Even in a war zone he thought often of his family’s comfort.
Jordan fought battles as a baby, teen and a soldier. He didn’t make waves about it; he just quietly set about taking care of the business at hand. No one will ever know who he is unless his dream of becoming a film director comes true. Yet he’s one of the greatest heroes around. I know this because I am Jordan’s mother
©Copyright 2004 by Monica L. Murphy