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I am not a fan of this word in general as it is so abused and over-used. We have hockey heroes, football heroes, hot dog eating contest heroes, and political heroes. The list seems endless these days.

Yet heroes there are. They walk among us, unsung and unnoticed. And I suspect that each of us has a real hero that they look up and aspire to, and admire. I have mine.

For as long as I can remember, my older brother has been my rock and foundation, my guide-post, my saviour, and mentor. He has been, and always will be my hero.

I have written of him only in passing. Yet there isn’t a day that goes by that he is not here with me. He is unflappable and when I tremble at what lies ahead I think of him. He is judicious and when I want to rush at what must be done I think of him. He is thorough and meticulous and when I am looking for a shortcut I think of him. He is calm and even-tempered and when I feel my temperature start to rise, I think of him.

I know of no one with a sharper mind or quicker wit. To watch him at work in a court of law is like watching a knife glide through butter. He will tell you that he’s in the business of dispensing rough justice to the unwashed masses but I will tell you that he is in the business of looking out for the rights of the underdog and for skewering those who abuse the rights of others.

Growing up we were inseparable. There was nothing he did that I didn’t want to do. And he did everything well, instilling in me the drive to excel at whatever I put my hand to. Wherever he went, I went and never once in all those years was I shooed away as a nuisance and bother. I was accepted as an equal, instilling in me the idea and practice that all are worthy of your attention and time no matter the differences there might be.

And lastly, less I go on forever, he is a renaissance man and adventurer and was those things before we had labels for them, a tremendous athlete and dedicated father, and beyond generous with his time and skills with those things and issues that he is passionate about.

Who else do you know has an actual action figure named and modeled after him? My big brother Jan does. There is an actual Action Jan Major Matt Mason-esque plastic figurine complete with fly rod, bow, mountain bike and camo gear. Sadly, not available in stores.

Action Jan, my life-long hero and big brother turns the calendar on another year today. April 3 is his birthday. Happy Birthday Jan. I miss you terribly and can’t wait to see you again.

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