The Grandmother I Always Wanted: Be Thankful For The Heroes That Shaped You - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Island News

The Grandmother I Always Wanted: Be Thankful For The Heroes That Shaped You

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Posted: Friday, November 15, 2019 2:26 pm | Updated: 3:01 pm, Fri Nov 15, 2019.

I like to think I am patient and compassionate, but I discover my worst traits when I am with a chronic complainer or whiner. As someone recently expressed it, “treating a hangnail as if it is a heart attack.” I admit I grow weary of wallowing in useless worry and celebrating pity parties, with no apparent effort to solve the problem.

Since interviewing Jon Pollack and reading his book “Questions for Kids,” I have thought a lot about our conversation. When Pollack asked me whom I most admired, I said the Holocaust survivors who went on to make a good life for themselves. Why be liberated if the rest of your life is dominated by that unspeakable time? As a teacher at Polinsky Children’s Center, I taught Ruth Minsky Sender’s autobiography “The Cage,” which detailed her life in a concentration camp. We did a videoconference with her, and I was impressed with her joyful spirit. The horror and awfulness of her experiences gave her a right to be bitter, but, instead, she reflected gratitude for her rescued life.

My grandchildren are approaching adulthood and independence when parents may not be able to smooth the wrinkles in life. Bumps will interrupt the road of daily occurrences. Regrets may mount; severed relationships may be difficult to mend; disappointments may seem insurmountable; tragedy happens. What gets them through all the garbage of life? A solid faith, a supportive family, steadfast friendships. That network of people who sincerely care even when they are unable to do much besides hug and be there are often the security our grandchildren need to trudge on. Being able to realistically catalogue their problems into the seriously devastating ones and the ones that will eventually be resolved on their own and then to purposely move on to remedy whatever they can will make life easier.

Add to that list having a grateful spirit, being grateful for what is noble in life, the small miracles that we seldom notice, the people who have influenced our lives by approaching their hard times with grace. I am grateful for my mother, who sacrificed without complaints to give my sister and me a normal life and preparation for the future with a college education. She was a role model of dealing with the present and working for the best solution.I am grateful for the books I read as a child that highlighted people succeeding when abuse, prejudice, poverty, difficult circumstances were ever present. I am grateful for the movies and television shows that showed me what was possible, what goals to strive for, what could be my normal.

I am, also, grateful for people who continue to surround me and show me what giant heroes they are when life seems to stomp on them continuously. A hero from childhood often sprinkles my conversation as I long ago labeled her a Job, equating her trials to the Biblical character. Marcia has had more tragedy in her life than the average person could endure; however, she has remained a vessel of light, a sweet, quiet woman of character, an inspiration for all who know her.

Marcia’s mother lived in a mental hospital most of Marcia’s life, confined for what we now know was hormone imbalance, and her father died when she was in elementary school. Marcia and Clara, her younger sister, were reared by Aunt Blanch and Uncle Leon, who were good people and provided a stable home for them next door to my grandparents. However, they had never had children and were not the demonstrably loving parents pictured by Mr. and Mrs. Clever, Beaver’s television dad and mom.

After graduating from high school and attending secretarial school, Marcia married Skeeter, and they had three children. Life seemed good. Taking his youngest son, Scott, on a hunting trip, Skeeter had a massive heart attack and died in the cab of the truck with his son sitting beside him. That son, as an adult, had an accident with his logging truck and died. Her daughter had cancer but is in remission.

Her beloved sister committed suicide by hanging herself days before getting on medication for hormonal imbalance. Clara had begun seeing a doctor. When asked if she had considered suicide, she said, “I would never do that to my family.” Clara had a loving husband, daughter, and son, a respected job, and every reason to enjoy life.

Through all the incidents that might crumble someone else, Marcia remained a rock for her children, a loving friend, and a productive employee. Her faith endured, and she smiled when she must have ached.

Recently I saw a segment on television about a man born with no arms whose parents gave him up for adoption at birth. Asked if he ever wished he had arms, he replied, “Never.” Hard to believe, but he used what he had: his feet, his determination, and his ingenuity to build a useful, satisfying life. Not content to be simply a member of the archery team because he was handicapped and commanded attention for the team, he determined to be the best archer. He now competes with not only handicapped archers but fully able ones who moan when they see him approach because he is a viable competitor who often wins.

As we age, the body weakens and rebels against former lifestyles. Diminished eyesight and hearing become worrisome. Aches and pains sometimes dominate our waking hours as well as our conversations. On days when I am too aware of my old body, I want to remember those “heroes” in my life and the winning spirit they exhibited to hurdle impediments far greater than mine. I want my grandchildren to cultivate their support system and develop the mental ability to face with confidence whatever life hurls at them. Being an Eyore and moping around family and friends never fosters the desired sympathy. Facing reality with the proper perspective is the healthy approach to meet success.

“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have - life itself.” Walter Anderson

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