A Hero Among Us

It is possible to live your life as a hero and never know it. It is also possible to have someone in your life that you hold to such a high esteem that they become your hero without you even realizing it. My Grandma is 86 years old, and she is just such a hero to me. 

Despite her age and an inherent knowledge that by conventional standards she has always been old in relation to me, I never remember considering her as such. She was always in and among the action. Outriding us grandkids on her bicycle. Boiling up crawdads we had caught in the creek, not because of their enormous size (they were tiny), or their delicacy (we were all picky eaters), but because of the adventure of it. And because her grandkids had requested it. She was captaining the boat or skiing behind it. We heard tales of her adventures in far off places, of riding trains, planes and automobiles. I distinctly remember a period of life where treats at Grandma’s house included banana flavored PowerBars, I’m sure my parents were thrilled. 

She is such a cool lady. I have fond childhood memories of summers spent at her cabin on the river. There were canoes and kayaks and wave runners, paddle boats and barges. We would mornings fishing and the afternoons romping through the fields to our favorite meandering creek to wade through the icy waters catching turtles and other critters. Don’t think Grandma sat idly by waiting for us to return with great stories of wandering. She was right their rallying the team. And she was always game to participate in any crazy plan we grandkids came up with. She was holding her own on the Seniors’ Tennis team at the age of 70, everyone else was in their 50s. And boy can she love. No matter what, she loved us all. Oh, she is not shy in telling you she disagreed with your life choices, but she loves you just the same. 

She is my hero in every sense of the word. You tend to mimic the people you admire. I can remember sporting a fanny pack in junior high because Grandma had taken to carrying one instead of a purse because it was more convenient when traveling to exotic locales. A couple of years ago she started warning us that she was slowing down. Although, since this new trend started she has ridden in a self-driving car, rode an elephant and danced the night away on a cruise ship. I like to tease her that I cannot wait to be her age, so I can have so much fun. She is quite possibly the coolest person I know.

Recently, she has taken ill and actually started slowing down. I realize that one day there will exist a world that this beautiful woman is no longer a part of. I cannot imagine that world. There are too many stories about her life I have not heard, too many three mile walks on Christmas day that have not been taken. I went to visit her recently and was warned that she was not doing well; it scared me. As I sat down next to her chair, we chatted and we laughed. She showed me a book someone had sent her, and I told her about an inspirational book I was reading. I saw my hero lying there, and I knew we would all be okay. My grandma is tough. She has a beautiful spirit that does not allow her to give up.To this day people are still surprised when they learn her actual age. Even as she struggles with her version of kryptonite, her beauty and youthfulness shine through.

I believe in her. I cannot not believe in her. I will believe in her until her dying day. I don’t have a choice. She is my hero after all. 

“…and in those perfect moments you find beauty that you never knew existed. You find yourself and you friends all over again, you find something to fight for, something to love. Something to show the world.”  —Gerard Way
Amy Gravlee