What makes a hero?

Here’s what Merriam Webster has to say:


he·ro Listen to the pronunciation of hero
Inflected Form(s):
plural heroes
Latin heros, from Greek hērōs
14th century
1 a: a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability b: an illustrious warrior c: a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities d: one that shows great courage2 a: the principal male character in a literary or dramatic work b: the central figure in an event, period, or movement3plural usually heros : submarine 24: an object of extreme admiration and devotion : idol
Here’s what Former Single Mommy has to say:
A hero is someone who inspires you to follow your dreams, by living a life worthy of following by example.  Every time I think of doing something great, or accomplishing bigger successes than I already have, I think of “who is my hero”?
Does your hero have to be someone who has done extreme things, accomplished many letters after their name?  Discovered a cure?  A new scientific theory?  A political activist?  
It’s always been clear.  It’s my Gram Julia.  She was a woman who endured the loss of not one, but two husbands.  Her first husband and his brother were in a car with her, she had two children at the time, and they had a car accident.  The first husband died.  The other brother married her to help her raise her children and they ended up having four more of their own and having a beautiful love, until his life was tragically ended in a  mining accident when he was only in his thirties.  My Dad was 14.  My grandmother endured all the years of raising the children, the youngest child being ten when her Daddy died.  She also had to go through the Vietnam War, when all of her sons, in different branches of the military, felt called to serve (as their Dad had done).  I have the beautiful china my Dad brought back for her from overseas when he was in the Marines. She wanted to be sure I had it before she died…so she could be sure it was in the right hands.
My grandmother lived about a half mile down the road from me, and growing up I was there just about daily.  She was where I got off the bus, or stayed when my parents went somewhere.  To be honest, I pretty much lived there.  She could be a sassy, cranky woman, but she was someone I was completely in love with.  I sat on her lap right up until she died.  She instilled a love of reading in me that has helped me weather some tough times alone.  She showed me what a single mom can really do when faced with obstacles.  She always maintained an impeccably clean house.  Yeah, I got my OCD neat freakism from her too.  She was my inspiration for so many things.  I think she knew that.  Nothing was better than my Gram Julia’s spaghetti and meatballs and molasses cookies.  Her house was my other home.  I loved her smell, her smile, the way she crinkled her eyes.  She was the crux of our family.  When she was diagnosed with cancer, she didn’t let anyone know for a long time.  That’s who she was.  She suffered silently.  And kept on being my Gram Julia.  When we finally did learn of her illness, I was in denial right up until the day of the funeral, when I went into her house with my aunt, to retrieve the opal ring she’d wanted me to have (I wore it on the day of my first wedding).  When I walked into that house, I knew.  She wasn’t there.  The funny thing is, I feel her so many places now, but I certainly did not feel her there.  My daughter is eerliy reminiscent of her.  B was about two when my Gram died, but they had a great relationship.  B loved her “Gam Gam”.  The night of her death I was in B’s room rocking her and suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of … something.  Not sad, not peace…just something.  And I knew.  I found out shortly thereafter she had died.  A couple days later, as B was lying on the floor and I was dressing her from above, she pointed over my shoulder and started laughing and squealing “Gam Gam”!  So yes, I think we are watched over by our very own guardian angel.  
I miss you Gram.  You are my hero as a single mother, before it was fashionable to be one.  You taught me my love of reading, of cleanliness, of beauty inside and out.  I inherited my curious mind from you (one time she was poring over my high school history text and asked me to leave it, so she could read it she was so fascinated).  She could cook, garden, raise children.  She is and was amazing to me.  People asked me all the time during my five years as a single mom, how I could do it?  How could I not?  My own Daddy was raised by an amazing single mother.  I miss her every single day, even now, 6+ years later.  I can still see her smiling at me.  I love you Gram.  You are my hero.
(the top is Gram holding me as a small child, the bottom is Gram holding B, when she was just two).



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Liz
    Jun 18, 2008 @ 15:14:20

    Amazing Gram!!!!! I love stories of women rocking single motherhood back before it was like it is now.


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