Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

Heroes R Us

We rarely know the whole story. When we watched the January 6th Investigation, we felt numbed by all the information we hadn’t known. Personal/political agendas had intervened. Happily, sometimes the “rest of the story” isn’t dark and depressing. Occasionally, details are kept secret temporarily to ensure that the execution of a plan has its best chance of success. Now and then, the background information we didn’t hear at first inspires us because people can be so much better than we expected. Such was true of the facts behind the 2022 film THIRTEEN LIVES, directed by Ron Howard.

Many of us remembered hearing news about the Thai boys’ football (soccer) team that became trapped with their coach in a long cave—over a crooked mile and a half—that was gradually filling with water. What was supposed to be a fun excursion before a birthday party turned deadly when heavy rains arrived unexpectedly. The twelve boys were sustained without panic for a total of 17 days—ten days without food, light, or clean water—by meditations led by their coach who had studied for ten years to be a Buddhist priest. Little did they know that even Thai Navy Seals and experienced cave rescue divers from the UK thought they were doomed. There was no way the boys and their coach could swim to freedom, even with help. The British volunteer cave rescue divers refused to give up. Local politics repeatedly delayed action, reluctant to show the world videos of dead children and a failed rescue to represent their country. People elsewhere watching the news wondered what was taking so long.

Many of us didn’t realize how many people sacrificed to save the thirteen. Ten thousand volunteers from 17 countries around the world backed up the locals. A water engineer from Bangkok who had studied in the U.S. led a group that struggled to re-route mountain rain water that traditionally emptied into the cave through fissures. Others pumped water out of the cave. Their interventions made it possible for the rescue divers to have places to surface along the cave route for them to exchange oxygen tanks and perform other actions crucial to survival. The farmers whose rice fields lay at the foot of the mountain agreed to let their crops be destroyed by the diverted flood.

Thai Navy Seals valiantly attempted to adapt water skills they had learned in the open sea to the vastly different dangers of a raging current inside a jagged cave. One died in the cave, another later. Some volunteer divers had to be rescued themselves. An anesthetist left his father’s deathbed to risk prison and his career to attempt a radical rescue technique no one had ever done before with a team of 18 experienced cave rescue divers led by the original two Brits. A single dive took over seven hours one way—more than 14 stressful, exhausting hours round trip repeated over three days. Not long after the successful rescue of all thirteen trapped souls, the cave was entirely submerged for eight months by the monsoons.

This week, my husband and I celebrate 45 years of successful married life. We aren’t still together because we couldn’t manage to leave. We choose togetherness every day. But the longevity of our marriage isn’t our triumph alone. We’ve had plenty of heroes—two elderly neighbors, a young lawyer, an acupuncturist, a holistic practitioner, strangers, and loving friends—sometimes far distant. The defenders we expected to be there for us, like the Thai Navy Seals in the cave rescue, weren’t able to help us meet our challenges. But heroes can appear from unexpected quarters. In fact, we never know when we’ll be called to be someone’s hero. We try to stay strong and alert so we’ll be equal to the task.

2 comments on “Heroes R Us

  1. Frances Sullivan
    March 11, 2023

    Never knew the “facts” of that rescue. Extraordinary! Makes me want to weep with joy when we use ourselves for such things. And, congratulations. 45 years. Also extraordinary.

  2. Esra Beyatli
    March 11, 2023

    It’s a beautiful reminder that there is still good in this world to live for. Thank you! Congratulations on your 45 years!

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