Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Landscape, Language, Teaching, Wildness, Beauty, Imagination

What Creates Heroes


Mortar boards fly!

Mortar boards fly outside the Cathedral!

My oldest son, Wyatt, just graduated from high school. One year ago, I was asked to write a letter to him. When I sat to write, I thought of the mosaic of our lives.

Wyatt and The Mommy Lady, 1996

Wyatt and The Mommy Lady, 1996

February 22, 2013

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Dear Wyatt,

I remember the first time I felt you move when I was pregnant with you. I was reading and resting the edge of a book on my tummy. Suddenly, the book popped up. I knew then that there was no way I was imagining you and your movement. When I think of this now, I think of your love of books, reading, and ideas and wonder if you were anxious to read yourself and trying to grab the book!

What a journey, our lives together, Wyatt. I don’t think there was ever a child more loved or cherished than you. You were born into a world of love. 

My journey with you as your mom has been, and continues to be, the most important in my own life. When you were 2 1/2 years old, you started calling me The Mommy Lady. Of all of my names, this one remains the most cherished. 

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

The best journeys are like those of the great novels, those of Tolkien – journeys of both beauty and hardship, of love and despair, of being tested and tough decisions made, of sorrow and joy. And what a courageous and honorable path you’ve walked. This has been your journey, dear Wyatt. Like the heroes of these tales, you’ve experienced all of this and more.

What separates the heroes, from those lost to history, is not the circumstance of their birth and not their wealth. What creates heroes is their courage and willingness to make the difficult decisions for Good. Think of Aragorn, Frodo, Sam, and Gandalf’s paths and all of the times it would’ve been far easier to succumb and give up on their journeys. For Aragorn to continue to hide in shame for what his father had done, Frodo to deny his destiny, Sam to leave Frodo in the Shire or on the mountain in Mordor, and Gandalf to stop trying to slay the dragon as they hurled into the depths of the crevice. And yet, they rose above again and again, living out Gandalf’s wisdom, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

Wyatt, Black Belt test

Wyatt, Black Belt test

This is what you have done, Wyatt. There were times in your journey when it would have been the easier decision to give in darkness, and a few times, you did, as we all do.

What demonstrates the greatness in you is that you looked within, learned from these experiences, and set about doing the hard, hard work of creating a person founded upon the very best of you –integrity, willingness to work hard, honor, kindness, intelligence, compassion, respect, trust, and goodness. What a young man you’ve created!

One of the things I most admire about you, Wyatt, is your courage in looking within yourself and choosing kindness, and respect for all, honor, and love. Often, this is the most difficult journey of all. And—as with all great adventures—the one most worth taking.

Wyatt, hurdles 2014

Wyatt, hurdles 2014

I burst with pride for you and with excitement and anticipation for what lies ahead in your life. Whatever comes, I know you will rise to the occasion to create a life of wisdom, adventure, wonder, I fill with gratitude that I am blessed to take this precious journey with you.

I love you to the moon and back,

The Mommy Lady

Wyatt’s journey of courage and integrity continues. Last week, Mom had just arrived for Wyatt’s graduation from high school. Dad was to arrive the next day. Two hours from Santa Fe, Mom received a phone call that my dad had been thrown from his horse and was en route to the hospital in Rapid City, SD with a crushed lung, five broken ribs, two cracked ribs, and a collarbone broken in five places. A dear friend forwarded this piece about Dad and the horse wreck, Lawmaker, rancher in hospitalized after being bucked off horse.

“If he goes into surgery, I have to drive back,” Mom said, having just completed the 15 hour drive. She left the next morning to return to South Dakota, putting in 30 hours of driving within two days. The poignant aspect of this horse wreck is that less than ten years ago, I was with Dad for another awful horse wreck that left him with a separated pelvis and shattered hand. I wrote about life when your dad’s a cowboy.

Wyatt and The Mommy Lady, 2014

Wyatt and The Mommy Lady, 2014

“Wyatt,” I said, after Mom arrived in South Dakota and we realized the extent of Dad’s injuries, including his all-too-early release from the hospital. “What about heading to the ranch earlier than planned? It’s your decision. I know there are graduation festivities with your friends for the next weeks. This is your time. What do you think?”

“I want to go with Bop Bop and Grammie, Mom,” he said, without hesitation. “I want to be there and help.”

Let me say again, so there is no romanticizing any of this, that Wyatt and I shared several very dark and difficult years—years in which I had no idea what the future for either of us held. Yesterday, Wyatt graduated at 10:00 am in a beautiful ceremony in the Cathedral on the Plaza of Santa Fe. This morning, he was on a plane to South Dakota at 6:00 am. Tonight, Wyatt is with Grammie and Bop Bop on the ranch.

As I wrote to Wyatt in his letter, What creates heroes is their courage and willingness to make the difficult decisions for Good. 

Wyatt, you are my hero.

The Mommy Lady

Author: Dawn Wink

Dawn Wink is a writer and educator whose work explores language, landscape, wildness, beauty, and imagination.

47 thoughts on “What Creates Heroes

  1. This is a beautiful piece Dawn, and am so inspired by your writing. Thank you for inviting us all to have the “courage and willingness to make the difficult decisions for Good”.

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  10. You are just awesome ! It is no accident that Wyatt has turned out to be a fine young man! This post also brought me to tears. I hope Dean is doing well. Love and prayers Cathy

    • Dear Cathy,
      I love that we’ve shared this journey since Wyatt was born – and much before! Dad is healing – the love and prayers sent by people have a lot to do with this. Thank you so very much. Love and love, Dawn

  11. Tears of deep truth in my eyes. A stunning post, my gf! xo p

  12. And Mommy Lady, you are one of my heroes. Praying for you all.

  13. Querida Dawn,

    Felicitaciones a los dos! Todavia recuerdo a Wyatt en panales… De tal madre, tal hijo. Muy lindos los dos!

    Ana Maria

    • Querida Ana Maria,
      Me imagino que tus hijos – que yo todavia recuerdo en panales, tambien – inspiran tantos sentimientos en ti. Estoy tan agradecida compartir esta experiencia de madre contigo todos estos años.
      Con tanto cariño,

  14. Hi Dawn, I’m in tears after reading your words about Wyatt and that he went to help your dad and mom. What a special hero son he is— and you are too for leading him through those dark and sad times. I pray your dad recovers sooner than expected and very well–those darn horses—– Liz

    • Dear Liz, thanks so much for your prayers. Mom is sure that they are making a difference with Dad’s healing. Thank you for your beautiful card–with a photo of my beloved desert, of course. What a gift. Love to you, Dawn

  15. BEAUTIFUL is clearly the word for your blog – it cascades down through the comments reflecting back to you your writing, your family and your soul xxx So happy to have been alongside for some of your journey. Love and hugs to you and yours – parents, children, husband and all ❤

    • Dear Frances, oh, I was just thinking about you! Thank you so much for taking the time to write. That makes two of us so happy to have been alongside one another for our journeys. Love and love to you and yours, Dawn

  16. Wonderful writing, as always, Dawn. Best wishes and congratulations to Wyatt. Best wishes for a speedy recovery to your dad. And best wishes for the caregivers…your mom, son and all others who are helping to make your dad comfortable.

    • Susan, thank you so much for this – Mom says that the wishes and prayers are absolutely helping Dad, and even today he feels better. And Mr. Wyatt! So proud of that guy. Love to you, Dawn

  17. Like others who have replied before me, I have tears in my eyes because of such a beautiful and heartwarming story of the relationship between you and Wyatt. I know you could not be prouder of Wyatt, his maturity, caring and willingness to sacrifice to help his grandparents. Congratulations to Wyatt and to you who raised him up in the way he should go.

    • Jane, thank you so much for taking the time to write. Yes, I could not be prouder of Wyatt. Amazing to experience these blessings so deeply appreciated. Thank you so much for all you write here. Love, Dawn

  18. Oh this brought tears to my eyes. Such big hugs to you all!

  19. It sounds like you are in the “sandwich generation” of blessings! How wonderful to have such a loving son who wants to go immediately to help his grandparents! You have passed on the caring gene in a wonderful way! Hugs and congratulations to you all!

    • Charlotte, I’ve been so taken with Wyatt’s response to all of this. Today, he and Dad went to check cows and are now watching Spiderman and laughing – the very BEST medicine. I can just hear them from here. Thank you so much for this and such hugs and hugs to you!

  20. I’m crying again Dawn….! You GO WYATT, your the best, you all are! Prayers to your dad and mom (Bop Bop & Grammie).
    My heart goes out to you all. Do they make’em any tougher?

    • Rachel, “Do they make ’em any tougher?” So, apparently, today Wyatt learned how to drive a stick-shift — with my dad in the truck! I’m sure that was just what those broken ribs and collarbone needed… ! LOVE to you.

  21. lovely

    From: “Dawn Wink: Dewdrops” Reply-To: “Dawn Wink: Dewdrops” Date: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at 8:33 PM To: Dawn Dobras Subject: [New post] What Creates Heroes

    WordPress.com dawnwink posted: ” My oldest son, Wyatt, just graduated from high school. One year ago, I was asked to write a letter to him. When I sat to write, I thought of the mosaic of our lives. February 22, 2013 Santa Fe, New Mexico Dear Wyatt, I remember the fir”

  22. Dawn, wow you are an amazing person. Congratulations to Wyatt and you for being there for him. Prayers for your father’s speedy recovery. Take Care Rita Eismon-Galavez

  23. Just beautiful, Dawn!! Thank you for sharing it. Xo Peggy

    Sent from my iPhone


  24. Yes, dear Dawn, Wyatt is a sterling young man who deserves high praise for all he has accomplished. But that whole growing up thing… it was a joint effort and The Mom Lady had a lot to do with it. You both are to be congratulated!

    • Dear Liz, thank you, thank you for sharing the path in this whole growing up thing with Wyatt- bumps, valleys, and hills. A time of deep gratitude for all!

  25. Daw, this is a beautiful letter and one to cherish forever. The best news for your Dad’s recup
    eration is having Wyatt near him.

    • Dear Patricia,
      I thought of you when all of this happened. Dad and Wyatt checked cows today and now they’re watching a movie and giggling. Now THAT is healing! 🙂 Love, Dawn

  26. Dear Dawn. Thank you for sharing how a mom’s love shapes a child’s life forever. Wyatt is an amazing young man!! I’m was so happy to hear he was going to be with your parents . They need his strength & presence during your Dad’s time of healing. Sending love & hugs to you. You should be so proud of Wyatt and know it is because of you! Diane

    • Dear Diane,
      I just heard from Mom—Wyatt and Dad are watching Spiderman and laughing and giggling. I can just hear them! Thank you so much for the love, hugs, and prayers. Mom is sure all are helping Dad heal. Thank you and thank you! Love, Dawn

  27. How wonderful it has been to watch Wyatt grow alongside you. My memories of his two-year-old spirit still make me smile! You’ve been the very best parent he could ever have. I cannot imagine what he has in store next in his life!

    • Oh, Yaya! And have you ever watched him grow alongside me. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing the beauty and the pain of this journey. Yes, he is off to a wonderful new chapter!

  28. This is just beautiful, Dawn!  Oh that every young man graduating would have a Mommy Lady like you!   Love, Shirlee

    • Dear Shirlee,
      Oh, and that every Mommy Lady might be so blessed! Thank you, thank you for taking the time to write. You’ve so been in my thoughts and my mom and dad are now making sure that he takes deep breaths to prevent pneumonia. What a difference your letter has made!

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