by John T. McF. Mood
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Several months ago, I was poring over my Dad’s personal effects after his passing at age 81. A few weeks before his death, I had visited to help him out with his computer. While I worked, Dad napped peacefully. As I repaired his computer, I thought about all the famous heroes I had been privileged to meet or see in my life. Admiral Alan Shepard, several presidents, a governor or two, some really famous doctors. All the while I knew that the real hero in my life had been my Dad. I wrote him a note and explained that to him, and left it for him to read later. He did, and later told his poker playing buddies about it. Some of them who came to Dad’s funeral mentioned to my wife, “Oh, YOUR husband wrote that note! He told the whole poker group about it!”
Mom had always told me of Dad developing treatments for pediatric diseases that normally killed babies. He stayed at the hospital all night a number of times to help bring a baby through a crisis. She was so proud of him, and knew how hard his work was since she was a Registered Nurse. She told me many things he did without expecting to be rec ognized. He practiced pediatrics for over 40 years and cared for all of the local foundling and orphan home children. He never charged them a dime — he was not that kind of man. I have a bit of a soft spot in my heart for orphans. I suppose I got that from him.
On many occasions we “shared” Dad by not having him home at supper because he was helping a child with a normally fatal disease. He actually was able to help save some of those children. He never made it to any of my Little League games either, since he had important things he was needed for.
After his passing from heart disease, I found one thing that none of us had been told of, not even my Mother: Dad had been wounded during World War II. As a noncombatant he was apparently ineligible for the Purple Heart — medics, nurses and doctors were prohibited from carrying guns or being engaged in combatant roles. He ignored his own wounds and literally saved the lives of several other men while waiting to care for himself last. Admiral Alan Shepard’s autograph is meaningless next to that note that Dad left for me to find, along with the Bronze Star for gallantry that he never told us about.
Dad was a small man by today’s standards, about five foot eight inches in his prime. Next to me, he looked very tiny. But as my brother and I helped him in the last way that sons can, I realized we were pallbearers for a quiet and giant little hero, Dr. George MacF. Mood, Jr.
Available in The Best of HeroicStories, Volume 2.