I'm sure I don't need to tell you that our boys are desperately in need of heroes.
Not the overly pumped-up, self-absorbed, flash-in-the-pan sports and movie stars of our age, but real, flesh-and-blood, die-to-self men who can inspire them to live a life of integrity and faith, no matter what they end up doing with their lives.
That's our son Jack on the left (his real name is John). In the middle is my older brother John, and on the right is my precious late grandfather, also named John.
My Grandpa John was a hero. Born in 1911 and raised on a pig farm in New Jersey with 11 siblings, he married my grandmother and together they had 3 children. John saw a better life for his family in California and so he moved to Los Angeles after World War II and successfully provided for them as a tree surgeon. His famous clients included Ava Gabor and Dean Martin. Oh, the interesting tales he told!
Every day, six days a week, my Grandpa John would get up and climb trees on behalf of his wife and children. When he was in his 70's, he chased two guys who stole some equipment out of the back of his truck and tackled them, holding them until the police came. They didn't scare him!
And tenderly, when I was a child, Grandpa would take me by the hand, plop me into the back seat of his car (no seatbelts required back then) and drive me a mile or so to Griffith Park to ride the ponies. (Is that not the cutest? In the middle of Los Angeles, to boot!)
Grandpa John was a man's man. He cut slices of apples for me with a scary-big knife. Into his 70's and probably even his 80's (gumption!), he climbed the trees in my childhood backyard to trim them every year, then carefully stacked all of the branches to form a fort for me to play in. I looked forward to those forts with wonderous anticipation.
He nursed my difficult grandmother as she was dying, patiently weathering the end of years of her anger and bitterness, and when she died, he missed her. He was gentle and kind and long-suffering.
He was a hero.
Do your boys have heroes like my Grandpa John to look up to? Men like that leave legacies of strength in their wake, and it is worth every prayer and moment searching for them as an example for your boys. Real heroes.