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Our Story Begins: Who Is Your Hero?

With Sam Waterfall

Our Story Begins:
Who Is Your Hero?

It’s usually one of those throw-away questions. You know what I mean, the icebreaker that you ask but you don’t expect to have a good, amazing answer.

“Who is your hero?”

Let me start with mine. I would begin by telling that, first of all, I have heroes and then I have a HERO. Heroes with the small “h” are what we all tend to throw out there, the career goals, the people you look up to and the like. For my career my heroes would be who you would expect: Murrow, Schieffer, Cronkite. Musically, there are more. There’s an old saying “never meet your heroes.” The theory is you’ll always be disappointed. But I met one of my musical heroes and I’m saddened beyond belief that he’s gone, BB King:

Abbi and BB


A better, classier, more amazing man you will never meet. He didn’t just meet my expectations, he shattered them. He traveled the world with a full library and a laptop and said that learning was the best thing he ever did. He had no college degree but wanted to make sure he learned all the time. He was supposed to give us just 5 minutes and spent 20 talking about Blues, life, the road, marriage, politics, and anything we could come up with. After his show he asked us backstage when he heard my little girl wanted to see him for her birthday. He hugged her, took her arm in his, and called her “Princess.” An American King called her Princess. He took the pin off his lapel and gave it to her and asked her to remember the music.

He was, without question, the greatest of American treasures, born here, steeped in the worst and best of what this country had to offer. Lucille, his guitar, is unable to wail, sing, shout for joy, or cry any more and the world is worse off for it.

Related: Our Story Begins: The Cost of Parenting

Which brings me, though, to my sons. Their school had an open house and on the wall were pictures from the first day of school. They had them up and most had normal, atypical answers. My oldest twin picked the film director/special effects artist Ray Harryhausen. It was no surprise, he loves stop-frame animation.

Noah Hero


But when I came to my youngest, it bowled me over.

Sam Hero


My son picked me. It wasn’t some major, gut-wrenching thing…I was one of three along with my sister-in-law and his sister, my oldest. I was bowled over because, as a blunt and honest kid, he just said he loved all the things I’ve done. He loved that his aunt had to get over losing her sister (my wife) and her mom (my mother-in-law). His sister entertained and helped and watched over him. His hero choice wasn’t sad or verbose or gut-wrenching. His choices were logical and they kept him happy and stable. He has always been a rock. He has moments of uncertainty and sadness but through all of the past 4 years, after losing his Mom, he’s been a unifying force. He protects his family and loves all of us, with that smile and that twinkle in his eyes.

Related: Our Story Begins: Living in the Moment

So I can tell you, after that, my HERO (big “H”) was always my Dad. I don’t need to give you the reasons, he’s an amazing, wonderful man. He introduced me to the music of BB King, as a matter of fact, and I am who I am because of him and my family.

But I’ve added to my list…my other HERO? It should come as no surprise: that’s my son.

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