I recently stayed at the Beverly Hilton in California and had forgotten that in addition to being the home of the Golden Globes, the hotel is infamous for a bathtub, and the tragic drowning death of Whitney Houston. Houston was one of those mega celebrities loved and looked up to by so many — A hero to hordes of her most fervent fans. Very few stars seem to garner that true, sincere hero-worship, like Michael Jackson or the recently departed David Bowie.
Though these global icons are mourned by millions, fans speak of them in a much more personal nature. It may be that their music helped them connect with a larger social circle, or their unique style provided the confidence that someone needed to truly express themselves. It seems to be a common thread that the heroes we miss the most are those who, in some way shape or form, made a personal connection with us, making some lasting positive impact. I certainly had one such experience. Well, I suppose you’d call it two, interconnected experiences — and this past Father’s Day reminded me of it.
On my 13th birthday, my Grandad gave me a book of Sherlock Holmes
stories, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I jumped into 19th century Victorian London with both feet (and eyes!) and devoured all 56 short stories and four novels in no time at all. Then, naturally, I turned my attention to the TV and movie adaptations.
To this day, Holmes remains one of the most depicted fictional characters in the movies, so finding things to watch has never been an issue. But it was the incomparable English actor Jeremy Brett who, for me, captured the character so completely. He was Holmes, my Holmes; the Holmes from the stories I’d read and re-read time and again. Brett brought the character right from the pages and was right there on my screen. Astonishing!
In 1995, just 19 episodes short of doing something that no other actor had ever done, filming the entire Conan-Doyle Holmes canon, Brett died. I was devastated. I remember vividly talking to teachers at high school about it, being inconsolable, crying. A part of me had died that day, a cherished part.
I think the reason I was so impacted by Brett’s passing was that he had been introduced to me by the greatest of all my heroes, my Grandad. With my own father being absent for much of my life, Grandad stepped into the fold — hence why every Father’s Day provides a poignant reminder of him. Quite simply, as I think back on my childhood, almost every good memory I have I associate with my Grandfather.
So whether your heroes fill stadiums around the globe and command millions of Twitter followers, or happen to be someone who personally helped you navigate your way through a difficult childhood, take a moment to appreciate them, to tell them, to thank them. Thanks, Grandad.
Mark Turner is formerly of Oxford, England, but has lived in America for over 15 years, the majority of that time in Colorado. Mark enjoys playing soccer (football!), hiking and biking when the weathers good, and when the weathers rotten writing blog entries that he hopes will amuse and entertain. Mark can be followed on Twitter @melchett, or the Back Chat show on KCMJ 93.9.