- Posted February 18, 2013 by
Vero Beach, Florida
Team iReport featured this story
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
What I Learned from "Oscar-Mania"
- rachel8, CNN iReport producer
The first time I saw Oscar Pistorious run I was captivated. Like a complete crazy person, I started yelling. Witnessing him caused me to jump up and down. My son, an amputee since the first week of his life, calmly commented, “Mom, he’s just a man!” Out of the mouth of a babe!
I suppose that I should have curbed my enthusiasm. To see a man in motion without the use of feet was simply magical. I saw him as a future super hero for my son who is missing part of his forearm and right hand. Completely inspired, I felt like I had witnessed the Messiah! I was so captivated that I started posting his likeness all over my Facebook page.
In short, I was caught up in “Oscar-mania.” Even my church pastor had preached about Oscar. The “blade runner” represented Christian values. He embodied things that I wish for my son’s life. Seeing him at the Olympics games was amazing. And then to see his appearance at the Para-Olympics did something very special - he raised awareness for athletes with physical differences.
However, in the hysteria, I lost sight of one simple thing. My son had seen it first. Oscar is just a man. He had the ability to make the mistakes of mortals. He is not a God, he is a person, and I got caught up in the passion.
I have to say that I don’t know what really happened on Valentine’s Day. I would like to believe that Reeva Steenkamp’s murder was a big misunderstanding. However it appears to be more than a domestic squabble.
Too often in life we put people on pedestals. We set them up to fail. The reality is that despite their “out of this world” performances, they are just people with their own set of challenges.
So why is Oscar’s demise a sensitive subject me? The truth is that I wanted my son to have a role model. The reality is that it’s my issue not his.
The first part of my son’s life was filled with questions by me. I wanted someone to tell me that he would be OK.
It sounds crazy but the first couple of times that I saw someone with a limb difference; I would race up to them, and start a conversation. In the beginning this approach brought me comfort.
On morning when I entered the local gym, I spotted a man with a limb difference like my son’s. At time my baby was only six months old. Like a nut case, I ran up to him, and said, “HEY!” The guy turned and looked at me. In a thick French –Canadian accent he responded with his piercing blue eyes, “Hellllloooooo my dear!” Completely embarrassed I thrust my baby into his range of vision and stumbled to say, “He, he, he is like you!” Suddenly, his seductive voice changed to a matter of fact tone. In an instant he said the words I have never forgotten, “This is your issue. Your son will never really see himself as different unless you let him.” He continued, “He is young and you control how he perceives himself. So just relax and enjoy him.”
Completely perplexed, I was mortified he thought I was hitting on him, and on another level, I was grateful for his words.
All of this made my husband laugh. A man who lacks hair, he remarked, “Honey, I don’t run up to every bald guy! You should also not expect to have a connection with every person whose limb difference is like our son’s. After all, they are just people.”
So there again was my life lesson.
I think we want people to remind us that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things. I am sad that Oscar fell from greatness. We all have demons we work to overcome. Despite heroic and inspiring fetes we are all just one day away from making a bad decision. I am grateful for Oscar’s flash of greatness and I pray he brings peace to the devastation he has caused. Everyone can be a winner for a short time. The challenge is making it a reality for the long haul. Therein lies the lesson of becoming a life time leader.