A True Hero

During my lifetime I’ve met many of people. People I spent sleepless nights anxiously waiting to meet and people who I met during simple life situations. I was star struck when I met some of my favorite country music stars. I floated on air for a few days to think I actually shook their hand and had my picture made with them. People I had admired and enjoyed for a long time, standing there in the flesh. A few days ago I met a person, a normal everyday person, a person who if you passed on the street would probably acknowledge you in passing, smile and go about his business. You would never know he was a hero, a true hero. I mean someone who risked his life to save another. Someone who knew in a spit second the reason his life had taken the turns it had, who knew why he was where he was that very day, that very minute, that very second and never questioned it. My life was forever changed by meeting him.
To meet Joe Lowe he seems like the typical grandfatherly, fun loving, easy going guy; the next door neighbor type who would offer you a beer and sit and chat for hours. You could become friends with Joe very easily. You would never know from looking at him the strength he had to muster to overcome what happened to him. While he tried to figure out whatever way with whatever means available to him and the bridge crew he worked with how to save a man and his wife who was still in the boils of the Des Moines River dam below, bobbing up and down doing her best to keep her head above water, he watched the man drown. Determined to save the woman, Joe began climbing into a harness to be swung out and pull her to safety but Jason beat him to it already harnessed up and ready to go. Joe made sure Jason wanted to go before he hooked him up. Joe knew he could keep Jason safe if he was operating the crane. His only worry was if Jason would be able to get a secure hold on the woman he needed to save. Joe was left to do what he did best which was to operate the crane. You could say Joe learned his talent through firsthand, on-the-job experience. He didn’t go to college to learn his profession. He doesn’t have a degree from some upscale University certifying him as an expert crane operator. Joe worked hard all his life learning his profession. He taught himself to be an expert. He knew what he had to do and there was no doubt in his mind he could do it, he just had to convince the policemen in charge of the rescue. After listening to Joe talk about that day I’m almost positive the policemen couldn’t have kept these men from doing what they did to save her.
To listen to Joe talk about the day his life was changed forever was, to me, a deeply moving experience. His voice cracked at points showing the raw emotion he still felt almost a year later. The thought of a man losing his life has hit him hard. The joy of being part of saving the man’s wife still doesn’t outweigh the fact a life was lost. When Joe talks about the woman he saved you would think they were best friends all their lives. He explains how she lives for her grandchildren now that the love of her life was gone. There is an unbreakable bond between the two of them. I listened to Joe talk, laughed when he laughed, smiled when he smiled and cried when he cried. The most touching moments which brought me to tears was when he pulled out his wallet and unfolded a creased, well worn letter the woman he saved had written to him. Watching him carefully hold the delicate piece of paper you would have thought it was worth millions. It was obvious there are very few possessions in his life with more meaning. He explained he had made copies of the letter so it would never be lost but the original stayed with him in his wallet.
I will be forever grateful I was able to hear Joe Lowe tell his story. I can only hope the good Lord has an angel in waiting for me if I am ever in a situation where I need one. Of one thing I am positive, I met a true angel. Joe and the other two men, Jason and Chad, have more than earned their angel wings and Heaven is waiting to present them.

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