My Personal Batman

So, I was over on Ms. Julie Summerall’s blog and she was writing about personal heroes, the ones not so conspicuous as Batman. So I thought, heck, maybe it’s time I wrote about my own personal Batman. While he’s never donned a cape and tights–a fact for which I am eternally grateful–my personal Batman has been spotted cavorting about in odd things like Spongebob shirts and leopard spot bras from time to time.

And after that introduction, it might seem a little strange to tell you that my capeless, Spongebob-sporting, leopard-print-loving personal hero is my faja.

Good ole’ faja’s been there for a lot–twenty years, six months and couple hours to be specific. There’s about half a dozen pictures of us at Daddy-Daughter dances littering the mantel, crowding the credenza and hiding on end tables. The fact that he’s framed them all and puts them out makes me smile every time I see them. Visible proofs that my faja loves me.

Dad’s a strange sort of fellow. He’s a bit like me, or rather I’m like him, in that he can be this hard-ass, gutter-minded, crime fiction writing guy but he can also be the man who wrote poetry for my mom every Valentine’s Day. He was the one who made up the story about nightmares being terrified of horses, so I would go back to sleep with my many horse models standing guard about my bed. Lots of people don’t know this side of the faja. He’s certainly not someone you want to trifle with, but deep down, he’s an old softie, and I love him for it.

That’s not to say that having a faja who is actually a bad influence on me isn’t fun–it is! I can’t count the number of times friends have told me “I love your dad!” or “Your dad is the coolest.” Well, he is! He taught me everything I know about writing. Many times, I feel like the years I have spent at school chalk up to nothing compared to what dad’s been teaching me my whole life. No professor’s ever told me that to be a great writer I need to learn to “kill my darlings” they’ve never pushed me nearly as hard as dad has (“You need to redraft this, Shannon. Again.) But then again, no one’s ever had so much faith in me as faja does.

I’ve been what’s often described as a “good kid.” For the most part, I got good grades, I didn’t drink, I didn’t sneak out or come home after curfew, I didn’t cut class, I didn’t lie to my parents about where I was going, didn’t get into drugs, none of it. A lot of that was because I couldn’t stand to disappoint my faja. That was far worse than any punishment he could give me. But my parents had trouble with me all the same. As a kid, I was constantly jealous of the attention my disabled brothers received. To be honest, I was a downright brat about it. But faja was patient with me– and in a very faja-esque way too! He didn’t take my shit. He didn’t lose his temper with me, but he straightened me out. He let me know that I had a gift, a life full of opportunities my brothers would never have. A lot of people shied away from being completely honest with young, bratty self–after all I was just a kid–but dad was blunt, dad treated me like an adult. And instead of asking me to be ashamed of my actions, dad just inspired me to do something with my life, to be a hero for my brothers. He made me a better person.

Then of course, came the teenage years. I had an awful middle school experience, and opted to go to the nearby all-girls private school to escape the kids and system I’d been with since kindergarten. And I was happy at Rosary. I loved the friends I made there, many of whom I still keep in contact with almost daily, I enjoyed the challenge of the college prep classes. At the same time, I found myself sinking into depression. I hated myself, and every little failure seemed so much worse. I was angry constantly, and our house became a battleground. In the end, it was faja who realize what was going on, who let me cry on him, who insisted I see a therapist. When things got hard, he wouldn’t let me feel sorry for myself, he’d prop me up, make me laugh, give me something to work towards. He saved my life. He once told me I was the bright spot in his life. I don’t think he realized how much that meant to me. To know that I was worth something to someone I loved so much, it gave me hope. I was rather hope-deficient those days.

Faja has also been unfailingly selfless throughout the years. I know he’d rather be a high school English teacher than working as a marketing muckety-muck (his term) but he always thought of his family first. I know how much having two sons with disabilities strains him, but I’ve never seen him resent them, I never heard him complain about them or call it unfair. Instead, he’s worked countless Casino Nights, and other charity events, stayed up late tutoring Danny, or fought til he was blue in the face to keep the damn school boards from screwing his kids over. He always done what’s best for his family, he’s always thought about what everyone else wants, and put himself dead last. I wish he wouldn’t. His best friend, my Uncle Brian, once called him the most decentest person on the face of the planet. He was dead on, Uncle Brian. When Uncle Brian died a few years back, I know it broke dad’s heart. But he didn’t let it show. He’d never ask us to help him in his grief. When he lost his parents, his aunt, it was the same way. As a matter of fact, I remember him comforting me and mom and everyone else. He was the real Batman–letting his own life, his own self play second fiddle to his heroic alter-ego.

Faja is now my best friend. When I’m lonely, I call him. When I’m bored, we talk books. When a I have trouble with a boy, or a bad breakup, faja always makes me laugh. He knows the best dirty jokes, has the best advice and is my moral compass. All the while he insists that this is a bad idea, that he’s really not all that great. Well, faja, I think you’re silly. You’re the best faja ever, even if you’re also the weirdest one. And Uncle Brian was right, you are the decentest human being on the face of the planet. I love you.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Dan O'Shea on December 11, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Ah crap, Julie Summerell’s blog had me blubbering and now you’re doing it, too. And you’re right – you have to redraft this, again. I don’t even know this guy. I only hope on the day the rose-colored glasses fall from your eyes, that you’ll understand.

    And always remember, your Faja loves you.


  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Daniel O'Shea, Daniel O'Shea, soshea, Elizabeth White, soshea and others. soshea said: Since @jasummerell has started on the topic of heroes, thought I would write about mine. […]


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