Norman is an unsung hero. He is so understated, that I think many people might not see him for the gem he is. He hasn't had an easy life: a rough childhood, divorce and the death of a child have all been difficulties he has had to overcome. He's also helped his children through various troubles and has had a rough road financially. Because of these things, Norman could have chosen many different paths and attitudes about life. But instead, he chooses to be happy and help those around him.
I have long admired Norman and his goodness, generosity, enthusiasm, humility and his ability to be happy no matter what. (I really tried to just pick one thing I like about him, but I just can't!) He has become an adopted uncle of sorts, and has been a special part of my sons' Coming of Age celebrations. Our family would be missing out on a lot if we did not know him.
Norman has the unique ability to play a lot of roles:
Horticulturist- Norman can grow literally anything, and he loves seeing all the cool things he can do with plants. He grows an amazing amount of his own food and is very generous in sharing it. I have a black thumb-- I kill everything, so I really appreciate this talent!
When we were learning about plants in our homeschool, he volunteered to bring over a young apple tree and teach my kids about grafting. He brought over about 6 branches of different types of apple trees and taught us how to graft them into the tree so that we would have a multi-colored apple tree. How cool is that?! (Sadly, he left the tree with us, and my black thumb killed it. I was mortified.) :(
Scout master extraordinaire- Norman truly cares about these boys and teaching them valuable life skills that will help them become men. He was my husband's scout leader and now he is my sons'. This last year, he went individually to every single scout's home and taught them to build fires with a bow and drill (ie, a two sticks and a string--no easy task!), so they would be prepared for the winter camp out. Can you imagine the amount of time that would take? He doesn't get paid for it, he just does it because he gets a kick out of teaching these boys cool stuff. And he's been doing this for as long as anyone can remember.
Elk hunter- Have you ever heard a true story teller recount an epic hunt? His stories are entertaining and funny, because he gets such a kick out of telling them. Norman is one of the best, but he treats animal life seriously and only kills what his family will eat.
A real life MacGyver- No joke. Norman has collected lots of odds and ends that the rest of us would simply throw away. He can make his own solar panels which he can heat the water in his house with. He can solar cook his own food with random leftover tin cans, cardboard and aluminum foil. He makes his own batteries. It's pretty crazy and pretty cool what he can come up with. If there is ever an EMP strike or a zombie apocalypse, you will want Norman close by!
But here's the thing about Norman: he would LITERALLY give you the shirt off his back.
Norman has brought my family food just to let us know he was thinking about us- even when money was tight to non-existent for him. He is enthusiastic about whatever he is talking about and he makes you happy just to be near him. He speaks openly about his weaknesses and flaws and how he is trying to overcome them. Norman has no "public face", pretense or wall that he puts up for ego's sake. And I am pretty darn glad-because no amount of fake airbrushing or anything else could make Norman any better than he is now.
In this world, we often celebrate the rich, those with a lot of social prestige or power, or those who look fabulous. We celebrate the OUTSIDE of people. But that's not the true person. Take away the money, the makeup or whatever, and what are you left with?
I am a Christian, and Christ is my ultimate hero. But if you looked at Christ's outside, He didn't seem like a big deal. He wasn't rich and he lived in humble circumstances. But...He spent His whole life in service to others. He was real. He was generous. He didn't think about his own bottom line, but instead provided love, healing, hope and even food, for others.
Norman has a lot of these similar qualities. To a casual onlooker, he might not seem like a big deal. But when you meet him, it is obvious that he is sincere, and that he cares about people. He enjoys giving life to plants. He gives food to others. He serves them. He is happy. He has no pretense. He is completely honest and there is not a bit of guile or deceit in him. This whole package is what makes Norman a hero to me.
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