"I try to be my own hero. That may sound flippant, but 15 years ago when I was really trying to grasp a direction for my life, a friend wise beyond his years reminded me that no one is perfect, that heroes fall and white knights on horseback are rare. Instead, he said, I should identify those qualities I found heroic and good and valuable in anyone I admired, and cultivate them in myself. "You won't always succeed," he said, "but you'll be better for trying. Losers sit and wish. Heroes try. Be your own hero."
It ends up, though, that most of the admirable qualities I want to have I saw in my father. He was the smartest man I've ever known and understood better than most the difference between education (of which he had little) and knowledge (of which he had much). He was incredibly gregarious, could always find something to talk about -- at length -- with absolutely anyone and in conversation with him, you always felt as though you were the absolute center of his universe right then. Dad had a story about everyone, and I never met anyone who knew him who didn't have five or ten about him.
There's a quote by Mark Twain, something along the lines of "You should endeavor to live your life such that when you die, even the undertaker will be sorry." The procession of cars at my dad's funeral stretched out four miles and, yes, the usually stoic funeral director cried. I should be so lucky. "
-Brad Graham, May 2001
Via Neale's interview with him. RIP Brad.