Cape Power

Whether it is Egyptian or Turkish cotton, linen, rayon, terry cloth, 300 or 900 GSM (grams per square meter), a towel has the power to transform a child into a superhero. The common boring adult sees an adorable four-year-old running around the house with a towel flapping in the breeze, but the towel-wearing child sees the earth beneath his feet, the clouds at his shoulders, and an evil villain straight ahead.

Sadly, there are chronologically classified adults who still think heroism is grounded in the adult form of the towel: money, status, graduate degree, authority, a nice house, or any other societal icon of success and power. The insatiable desire to annihilate a pervading villain, to have at least one major victory that brings recognition and makes a notable mark in history exists, but the power is not in the adult version of the towel cape. Most true heroes will never be praised on social media, news media, or recorded in print, yet their actions are transformative for individuals, society, and the world.

I know you didn’t ask, and you probably aren’t even curious, but here is my short list of heroes and their qualifications for hero status:

  • At the top of my list is the woman best remembered for sitting in the middle of her living room floor with a rectangular laundry basket over her head, her two-year-old grandson seated in front of her. They were seeing the country from their “train.”
  • The son of an abusive drunk who grew into a man of integrity, choosing to treat his wife with respect and love while providing for his family and selflessly helping his neighbors and church.
  • The city councilman who rolled up his fresh-from-the-cleaners, starched white shirt and picked up trash that had been dumped on the property of a non-profit organization. Then on his day off, he grabbed a paint brush to help the local scout troop cover vulgar graffiti in his town.
  • The mom who hasn’t showered, has only eaten the crusts of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, and whose house looks like a clothing and toy factory exploded, yet her children know they are loved.
  • The dad who walks the floor with a screaming baby, compassionately listens to his wife vent, and brings home flowers or chocolate or both.
  • The student who regularly attends school even though the adults in the house loudly fight all night every night, or the student who maintains A’s in her honor-level classes while helping her mom stay sober and clean and taking care of her younger siblings.
  • The parents who not only teach, but model manners, respect, and empathy. These parents even dare to have rules in their house.
  • The librarian who makes a point to gather lost souls under her wing and nurture them into their potentials while turning non-readers into voracious readers.
  • The math teacher who stays two hours late to tutor a student athlete after practice because he is lost in the world of formulas, fractions, and the beloved Fibonacci sequence.
  • The English teacher who frequently brushes tears from her face as she reads her students’ journal entries and makes encouraging comments, praying they will make a difference in her students’ hearts as well as their language skills.
  • Administrators who gracefully conduct difficult meetings with parents, students, and teachers, encourage staff members while holding them accountable, and lead their entire building of eclectic personalities, beliefs, abilities, and styles in such a way as to unify them.

If an Egyptian-cotton-towel-cape can transform a child into a superhero, think what an empathy-and-unconditional-love-cape can do for an adult.

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