How do you define a hero? Is a hero someone who wins the game in the last seconds? Is a hero the person who devotes his or her time helping others? Or is a hero simply a person who has lived her life to the fullest, been the foundation rock of a family and set an example that you will try to live up to but know that in the end you will fall short?
I know a woman, a very special woman, who has always lived life by her own rules. She is highly educated, growing up during a time when highly educated women were anathema. She wanted to study and teach chemistry but was told that there was no future in that for women so she did the next best thing. She taught math and science to high school students. She married late in life for those times and raised three children. She was hard-working and fiercely independent which helped her when her husband died early. She continued to work and cultivate interests and relationships. She remained strong in her faith showing it as her rock. She traveled all over the world, always learning, always experiencing. She loved her family; sharing in our triumphs and offering unqualified support when we struggled. She worked hard to stay 'young' for her children and grandchildren. She gave us the opportunity to experience things varying from theater to horseback riding to tennis lessons. She loved nothing more than to be surrounded by her family even as her hearing failed her. She could always be counted on for a snack and a drink (of any type). She demonstrated day in and day out that the only limitations you have are the ones you impose on yourself. She was always impeccably dressed, taking pride in her appearance and house. In her house you could never help but to feel happy and safe and loved, as if nothing bad could ever happen to you within those walls. She adored her children, her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren. And now, as she weakens, we surround her hoping to give back a tiny bit what she has given to us all of these years: love and peace and comfort.
She is my role model and mentor. She is my biggest and loudest cheerleader. She is my Grandma. And I love her so very much.