The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

Sometimes the cape fits someone else better


Normally, I would never write a serious column … mainly because the three thoughts I have each week are rarely serious. Just ask anyone in my family, they’ll tell you without a doubt I’m the duck that is always out of line. But, bear with me, some things have to be said. It will likely mean nothing to any of the smartest, sexiest and coolest people (those that subscribe to the Log), but this one is from the heart. As a young boy, I only really wanted to be two things when I grew up – a player or anything associated with the Houston Astros or a superhero. Being a skinny 80-pound weakling, I admired their ability to fly and have big muscles. Lofty goals, I know. You can’t imagine how many hours I spent “flexing” in front of the mirror hoping that a muscle would pop out. Really … I would have been happy with just one – even if it were on my toe!

But that is a story for another time.

Since I have aged (I might be stretching the truth too far to say I have grown up), I have realized that the people I thought were invincible and more impressive than Superman, Iron Man, Batman or Supergirl are getting older, I never really thought my parents and brothers and sisters would leave me.

About a decade ago, my father, Bobby, passed away after a fight with mesothelioma. I know everyone thinks their parents are the greatest – and they should. I certainly think my father was – considering he fought his way out of a wheelchair as a youngster after getting severely burned and raised seven children with only a third grade education. Even after recovering from burns that prompted doctors to suggest he have his legs taken off, he became such a good athlete that most agree he could have played professional baseball. He turned his back on all of that to raise a family with my wonderful mother, including a young son who faced serious health problems after being born several months premature in 1965.

Superman is gone for me.

A few months after my father died, my second-oldest brother, Danny, passed away from a heart attack at the age of 45. A U.S. Marine veteran, he was 6-foot-3 and weighed 300-plenty pounds and survived two tours of duty in Vietnam as a door gunner before he was 22. Honestly, I thought he was the toughest man that God ever put on this planet. At the same time, he had the biggest sense of humor and the loudest laugh. He was the life of the party – as long as you didn’t disrespect the flag, the Corps, children or women.

Yet Iron Man is gone.

Three years ago my brother Butch passed away. The brother just above me in age, Butch was my idol growing up. The epitome of cool and suave, he was such a quiet and gentle soul. I can remember when all the kids used to pick out who they wanted to be at school, I always chose to be Butch. He was my Batman, James Bond and Elvis all rolled into one. Those nights he used to let me go to work with him as a security guard will live forever in my memory. Don’t tell my mom, but we stayed up all night drinking Slurpees, listening to those 70s songs on the radio and talking about building rocket ships.

Batman is gone.

A few weeks ago my “Old” sister (remember, I have two … “Ancient” and “Old”) received some very serious health news. Probably the worst news a person could ever get from a doctor.

How the hell can Supergirl be ill? Of all my brothers and sisters, Rita is the one who would fight a bear with a toothpick … and make the bear feel like it needs backup. Her approach to everything is simple: If you didn’t want any crap, don’t start any.

She was anything but a mean soul, though. When I was a boy and going through my superhero stage (which is very similar to the stage I’m still in), I can remember she spent days sewing me a Yellowjacket costume (Google him if you want to know). I ran around for years in that suit saving the neighborhood from evil tumbleweeds and hordes of red ants and locusts. She (and let’s not let this get back to my mother, please) was the same sister who saved her little brother’s pride by saying she spilled water on the bed when he had an accident, and the one who bought her brother a senior ring when she found out he couldn’t afford it. She’s the same sister who designed and made the wedding dresses for my wife and two daughters – again because we were to poor to buy them.

If anyone can kick cancer’s butt it’ll be her. She may not wear a cape or have a big red “S” on her chest but she is every bit of a superhero to me. You give it hell, Rita. I’ll find my old costume for you to wear.

You’re the one who deserves it. Just don’t leave me because I may need you to let it out as I have expanded a bit in the belly.

(Tommy Wells is the editor of the Seward Phoenix LOG.)


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